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Will the Inducing Infringement Act Kill the iPod?

The EFF posted a mock complaint in a lawsuit that could be brought against Apple, accusing the corporation of selling its popular iPod music player to induce people to infringe copyright. The complaint is meant to point out the pernicious effects the Induce Act could have on technology development.

There was a really good panel on this yesterday at Supernova. (It was the only good panel we attended yesterday, in fact.) Attorneys for Verizon and the EFF decried the proposed Inducing Infringement of Copyright Act (Induce Act) as “ridiculous,” and warned that, if passed, it could be used to bring frivolous lawsuits that could eliminate many popular technologies unrelated to file-sharing. They warned that the bill was too broad in what could be considered an inducement and noted that it would have unintended consequences on other technologies such as broadband and the Apple iPod.

The Induce Act, S. 2560, introduced by Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch and Vermont Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy is designed to treat those who induce others to violate copyrights as infringers themselves. The Induce Act would give the RIAA and other copyright holders the ability to seek civil remedies against those who facilitate copyright violations. The bill is viewed by its opponents as an attempt to rectify a 9th court decision that found that the peer-to-peer (P2P) service Grokster was not liable for the actions of its users.

Hatch noted that the bill will help protect children—many of those targeted by RIAA lawsuits have been underage-- from those who would abet them in committing illegal acts.

“It’s really ridiculous and it has nothing to do with children,” said Sarah Deutsh the associate general counsel for Verizon. “They say the purpose of the bill is to go after P2P companies, but it is so broadly written that it is an incredibly blunt instrument.”

“For example, let’s look at the Apple iPod. They might look at the fact that for a couple of hundred dollars you have a device that will hold 10,000 songs. Apple knew that you were not going to spend $10,000 to populate that entire hard drive with legal material. They knew that you were going to do some illegal copying and therefore they’re inducing.”

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