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WRONG NOTES: a blog of ear reverence

Wrong Notes collects posts on music, art, culture and fun stuff. Also included: news about the Ear Reverends.

A call to fight against the INDUCE act

What follows is a message that I've been emailing to my friends and family in the USA (where I live too), asking them to join me in fighting the INDUCE act by joining the Save Betamax campaign. Please consider joining in too!


As you know, I don't send out many messages about political issues, but I am very concerned about a law that may be passed by Congress that would basically make it illegal to create technologies like the ones I use every day to record and distribute my music (and other things, like family photos) over the Internet.

This bad law is known as the INDUCE act, and I'll include some links below where you can find a lot more background information. But, basically, what the law says is that you can be considered liable if you create technology that could be used to violate copyrights. Basically, this means that the makers of any electronic device or software program that can make a "copy" of something (digital camera, video, audio, text) could be threatened with millions of dollars in copyright liability.

This law was virtually written by the record and movie industries, and it very much continues along the lines of their past efforts to effectively outlaw the cassette and video recorders. Essentially, these industries are now trying to outlaw Internet and electronic tools that they think might undermine their current business models, which are tied to older technologies.

(I'd hate to be a kid today wanting to make and distribute music or movies with this technology and see it made illegal—I can't imagine what I would've done if cassette tape recorders were made illegal when I was a kid!)

So, we've had tape recorders and digital cameras because, a couple decades ago, the Supreme Court ruled in the "betamax" case that the makers of video recorders were NOT liable for copyright infringements made with video recorders—there were also substantial ways to use video recorders that did not violate copyrights (like fair use home taping, and making videos of your family).

That ruling has allowed many technologies to flourish including camcorders, digital cameras, and all manner of digital music devices, including the iPod.

So, the other nasty bit of this current situation is that some members of Congress are trying to push INDUCE into law ASAP without public hearings or open debate. They probably figure that this law's issues are too obscure for most people to worry about, and it's better to just pass it and make the record and movie companies happy.

For me, this law has immediate impact: it will both cut off my access to technologies I use to make my music and to make my music available on the Internet, and it will also inhibit my ability to build my Internet project, the iCite net.

INDUCE is designed to allow the big RIAA record companies to control how music is distributed, and, with INDUCE, they will be able to legally sqaush (as they did to Napster) the alternative distribution channels that I use—even though my use of these channels is legal!

And, if you're like me and imagining the evolution of tools you use like digital cameras or iPod like devices or TiVo—new features that give you more control and ease by which you create images and music, or enjoy the images and music of others, then I hope you'll consider that INDUCE will totally slow down or altogether stop the development and availability of these tools.

Many things simply won't be developed (like my iCite net project—because I can't afford the risk of being sued for millions of dollars just because I want to experiment with ways of distributing information and content).

So, tomorrow (the 14th), I'm participating in a campaign called Save Betamax where I'll be calling members of Congress and asking them to drop their efforts to pass the INDUCE act. (Now is definitely the time to do something!) This effort is organized as a national call-in day at this site: Save Betamax.

The organizers of this also have two other sites about INDUCE, which I suggest you look at:

Save the ... and (it's predecessor): Save the iPod.

I hope you'll consider signing up at Save Betamax to call members of Congress and ask them to stop INDUCE. But, a less intensive way to participate is to send a FAX to your Congress person by simply filling out the form at Save the iPod (scroll down the page).

At the very least, I hope you'll send a FAX this way. And, I think it'd also be great, if you know of anyone else who might be interested in helping stop INDUCE now, whom you could ask to send a FAX or call-in.

For some more background on INDUCE, I recommend you take a look at the EFF's mock complaint against the iPod (i.e., why the iPod would be illegal) under INDUCE: Fake Complaint against Apple, Toshiba, and C-Net for Inducing Infringement of Copyrights.

Also good is Ernest Miller's Hatch's Hit List (named after Orrin Hatch, the main sponsor of INDUCE).

This is a list of things that probably would be legally liable under INDUCE. Some highlights: LEGOS, portable hard-rives, disaster relief communication systems, and scanners.

Also, if you want it, there is even more from Ernest Miller in his INDUCE posts archive.

Thanks for listening!


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