The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider a bill Thursday that would hold
technology companies liable for any product they make that encourages people to steal copyright materials. Critics say the bill would effectively outlaw peer-to-peer networks and prohibit the development of new technologies, including devices like the iPod. The Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act (S. 2560) was introduced last month by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), head of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The legislation would hold a company liable that "intentionally induces" a person to infringe copyright.
Who defines what "encouragement" and "intentional inducement" is? This sounds like a nasty piece of legislation, but to make it uniform for all technology, you would also have to outlaw typewriters, pens and pencils, knitting needles (for making copyrighted patterns) yarn, paper, cloth (copyrighted patterns again), photocopiers, cameras, camcorders, cell phones (transmitting bits of copyrighted material), pretty much any method of recording and transmitting information could be under fire, and that's crazy. Who is backing this bill? The RIAA and MPAA both stand to profit from it, the bill would give them a licence to sue just about anyone on very subjective grounds.