September 2, 2004 4:15 PM PDT

Copyright Office pitches anti-P2P bill

A hotly contested wrangle in Congress over how to outlaw file-swapping networks just took a new twist.

The U.S. Copyright Office has drafted a new version of the Induce Act that it believes will ban networks like Kazaa and Morpheus while not putting hardware such as portable hard drives and MP3 players on the wrong side of the law.

The original Induce Act has been severely criticized for possibly jeopardizing products such Apple Computer's iPod that could "induce" people to commit piracy.

An Aug. 19 decision from a federal appeals court that said the Grokster and Morpheus file-swapping networks were legal to operate has sent shock waves around Capitol Hill. Now groups like the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and their allies in Congress are scrambling for legislation such as the Induce Act that would overturn the 9th Circuit's ruling.

The Copyright Office's four-page "discussion draft," dated Thursday and seen by CNET, appears to back away from the broad sweep of the original Induce Act by making it more difficult for companies to be found liable for copyright violations. It says anyone who "intentionally induces" copyright violations can be found liable, with "induce" defined as one or more "affirmative, overt acts that are reasonably expected to cause or persuade another person or persons" to violate copyright law.

But the Copyright Office's proposal is raising eyebrows among consumer groups and Internet providers, who fear that it suffers from many of the same defects as the original. One section, for instance, says companies that "actively interfere" with a copyright holder's efforts to identify pirates could be liable.

"Let's say the recording industry wants the names of our subscribers," said Sarah Deutsch, vice president and associate general counsel of Verizon Communications. "Is (objecting to the request) interfering with their efforts to detect infringing uses? It seems to be."

Another section suggests that Internet providers and technology companies must take all "reasonably available corrective measures" to prevent piracy. "Would your failure to take a digital rights management package from a large copyright holder mean you failed to take corrective measures?" Deutsch asked. "Or your failure to take the action they want in a cease-and-desist letter?"

The Copyright Office did not immediately respond on Thursday to a request for comment.

Mike Godwin, legal director of the "fair use" advocacy group Public Knowledge, said: "I think one can read it through pretty carefully and not be sure who will be liable and who isn't. One thing we would like to get out of this process is that if a bill is going to be passed, it's going to be clear."

The Copyright Office, an influential agency organized under the U.S. Congress, prepared the draft legislation after a meeting last Thursday convened by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, whose chairman, Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is pushing hard to enact some version of the Induce Act this year. Last week's meeting was attended by representatives from IBM, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, the Business Software Alliance, the RIAA and the Motion Picture Association of America.

An e-mail message that the Copyright Office sent Thursday to groups participating in the meeting said: "This draft is intended to facilitate and promote discussion of the issues in a more concrete way than we discussed last Thursday--it should not be taken as our recommendations, and nothing in here should be taken as the official position of the office...We ask that you submit written comments on this draft, by e-mail to this e-mail address, by 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3."

A follow-up meeting is scheduled for next week.

Verizon, Public Knowledge and a host of other groups--including librarians and the Consumer Electronics Association--have thrown their support behind an alternative to the Induce Act that is extremely narrow and limited only to commercial file-swapping networks that could not survive without widespread piracy.

Will Rodger, director of public policy at the Computer and Communications Industry Association, said the Copyright Office's draft was objectionable because it would effectively regulate computer hardware and software.

"First it was the Hollings bill, then Induce, now the Copyright Office's bill. They look different, but they all revolve around the same thing: Giving content (providers) veto power over all new technology," Rodger said. "Who decided that holders of government-granted monopolies should determine the future of high tech? I don't remember reading that memo."


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the riaa is wrong
i think thier is nothing with free music
Posted by bryan_2001 (3 comments )
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i agree
what the person was trying to say thier is nothing wrong with download free music or movies aney thing else for that matter.
Posted by bryan_2001 (3 comments )
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Induced what?
The RIAA and the politicians who believe in this "induced" philosophy are wrong.

Are we going to say to all of the civil processes in this country that if someone can "induce" then they are guilty?

Shoot, if CNET induces frustration at their editorial opinions then are they liable for harm that comes from someone who injures another?

This whole entire inducing thing is ridiculous. Peer-to-peer networks can be used for many innocuous things like sharing pictures or music I made myself. Let's find a better way to enforce copyrights using new technology instead of killing the messenger.
Posted by EngineeringOps (16 comments )
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Inducemet by RIIA itself
RIIA or its members are the biggest inducer to copyright infringement by these actions:

1. Changed from vynil records to CD. This has induced millions of decent people to want to copy CDs.

2. Sony, a RIIA member even sells the blank CDs and the recorders neded to make copies of CDs.

3. Some RIIA members have gone to the extreme of selling great recordings. These are real inducers for copying. True, these are exceptions. Most records producd by RIIA members are musically worthless.

4. By being infringers themselves. Sony, a RIIA member, has made over 15 records with our songs without a licenses or ever paying royalties. By setting the example, they make others believe that they can get away with it.

5. By suing kids and their parents, RIIA is creation a nation of rebels and what do rebels do when punished? Usually break the rules even more. That is why jails are full and more jails are needed as more are punishd. A vicious, growing, circle.

Prohibition did not work but that lesson was not takn by RIIA or the Copyright Office or by the current crop of lgislators.

Rafael Venegas
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Posted by (5 comments )
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Whats the big Deal
People have been recording media for decades. The cd and dvd burner come out and now I can't record my music without gettin sued. What happend to the days when if you did not use it to make money you were not in trouble. Good thing they don't make toilets at riaa oterwise we would pay .25 cents a flush and .50 cents to use the toilet.
Posted by (1 comment )
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About Copyright Office new "induce proposal"
From th legal business point of view any confusing additions to the copyright laws is good. More fuzzy lawsuits will be made and these, the fuzzy ones are where the money for lawyers because the legal work is far more complex and more profitable.

What the American people deserve is a simplified copyright law: If you SELL a copyrighted work without authorization from the copyright holder, you are an infringer. All else in the law is jut fat an confusion that benefit the lawyers, who as a group casue more inducement to indfringe copyrights than anyone or nything else. Lawyers and judges induce infringement by defending the infringers, an ironic twist. Visit my web page if in doubt about this.

All uses other than selling or illegally authorizing the use of copyrightd works without authorization of the owner should be legal because there is no practical way to prevent it. I am a copyright holder of many songs. The radio plays the songs all the time without my authorization. Many performes use it on their shows. All that is against the present law. But the law doesn't work because I cannot prove that the performances of our songs were really made or lawsuits are to costly and there is no cost to benefit ratio to speak of and because I benefit from the playing of the songs because as the songs performed become btter known, their market value goes up.

Lets face it, the copyright laws are really written by or for the benfit of a few monopolies and for the legal and court business to flourish. Not for the benefit of the people or the artists who create the works.

Rafael Venegas
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Posted by (5 comments )
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Good except
I am mostly in agreement about rewriting the copyright law. It is unnecessarily bloated and geared to protecting corporate interests, especially those of the RIAA and MPAA.

The RIAA doesn't seem to understand that most of the users which are trading via P2P netwarks are rebelling. Congress should take note of that. For too many years, now Congress has been enacting laws that protect corporations and forgetting about the real people, the people that matter, the citizens.

Haven't we taken the cue from the past 4 years? Corporations cannot be trusted. Those with interests in making huge profits, those at the top of the corporate ladder, don't care about individuals. They're putting their own greed ahead of even their own stockholders!

Let's rewrite the copyright law yes, but do so so that the artist gets well-compensated. Lets make it illegal for corporations to "own" copyrights. The court systems have been clogged with one corporation suing another for copyright infringements. For goodness sake, let's also cut the amount of time that the copyright is enforcible, say to 10 years.
Posted by MythicalMe (51 comments )
Link Flag
We're becoming a police state, for corporations, by corporations
Why in god's name would you ban technology?!? We don't ban guns and they have the potential to rob someone of their life. Christ, is no government agency not paid for for by special interests?

And someone, please, tell Orrin Hatch to shut up.
Posted by ordaj (338 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is so stupid
Look, its pretty well established jurisprudence that it is in fact against the law to download music you don't have a legal right to own (ie, didn't purchase). But its also pretty clear that legally, its not the fault of the network owners that their networks are used for illegal activities, anymore than it's the state's fault that people speed or transport drugs over their roads, or the car manufacturers that people use cars for those same activities.

That being said, Sharman et al clearly profit from the illegal use, but that's incidental to the availability of the network. And they profit by generating ad revenue for malware vendors.

If the RIAA and Congress really want to "regulate" these networks, a ban is clearly illegal and the 9th Circuit (or maybe the Supreme Court next time) is just going to strike it down for being overbroad. But, why not take the money out of it? Make it illegal and enforceable on an individual basis to install any software application onto a computer without the direct, explicit interaction and consent of the user, an individual license agreement for each application, and a disclaimer that delineates precisely what the program is, does, and why its being installed (ie, if I find Gator on my computer again, I can sue GAIN for a sum to be set by statute). Give users the legal ability to "opt out" of spyware and adware that is bundled with P2P programs, give some hope to net users the nation over that the spyware will not invariably compromise every facet of their lives, and drastically (and incidentally) cut the profit margins for companies like Sharman. Its win-win for everybody except the freeloaders.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Consequences of hypergreed...
The RIAA, SCO, et. al. are so focused on exploiting their precious
"intellectual property" (which, though they may own it, they
didn't actually create - but that's another rant) that they are
killing the goose that lays the golden eggs they gobble so

Americans sometimes forget that we're only 4% of the world's
population. If we limit technology here, we will just become a
technological backwater and the rest of the world will pass us
by. Eventually, the US market for their precious IP will dry up
becouse nobody here will be able to afford it.

Plus, the US already has the largest percentage of its population
in prison of any developed country (most for nonviolent
offenses) so how big a hit will our economy take to support our
new and expanded prisons full of IP "pirates?"
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Changing the law . . .
Brill. So the court rules against the government and then the government will manipluate and change the law to that another appeal will succeed?

So what's the point in having a law when Congress will not abide by the ruling? Congress, or any government, should not try and circumvent a ruling by a court.
Posted by Myron.S (16 comments )
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