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June 16, 2004
INDUCE Act = Son of Hollings?
It looks like our Mr. Von Lohmann is on a roll, breaking the news that we may see yet another harmful piece of copyright legislation rolling down the pike -- perhaps as soon as tomorrow. Dubbed the INDUCE Act, the bill is rumored to add a new section to the Copyright Act that would grant copyright holders a cause of action against those who "induce" infringement.
Even a moment's reflection should make the danger to innovators clear -- you now have to worry not just about contributory and vicarious liability, but an entirely new form of liability for building tools that might be misused. It will be interesting to see whether the bill expressly precludes any Betamax-type defense. This may also pose First Amendment problems, to the extent a journalist or website publisher might be liable for simply posting information about where infringement tools might be found or how to use them.
It's the Hollings Bill by other means -- an over-reaching new form of indirect liability that would force technology companies of all kinds to "ask permission" before innovating for fear of ruinous litigation if they don't.
Stay tuned for more details here or at Deep Links; I'll post them as soon as I get them.
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