The Induce Act

September 14th, 2004 | by ian |

This proposed legislation would make it illegal for any company to develop products which are capable of digital copyright infrigement if a significant market demand is generated by individuals with the intent to use the product primary for such infringement. Imagine a world where photocopiers and VCRs are illegal because a minority of the population uses them primarily to violate copyright. We may be headed for the digital equivalent of that (VCRs and Photocopiers are usually analog and apparently make “imperfect copies” as opposed to the perfect copies created via digital methods). We all need to be concerned about the potential for the Orwellian world that would be created where all digital manipulation tools including computers and iPods would be locked down by DRM (digital rights management) schemes.

Brave Politics
Only humans could have the bravado to try to break the laws of physics. Here is an excellent in-depth explanation of why DRM doesn’t work by an up-and-coming Canadian author Cory Doctorow. See this Canadian government article on why DRM and Privacy are mutually exclusive which leads us to the inescapable conclusion that the Induce Act is fundamentally incompatible with privacy as we know it. Adam Shostack wrote in this advice to the Canadian goverment: “I believe that extreme caution is needed in crafting deterrence to circumvention. It is important to start from the understanding that circumvention is not a crime; it is the violation of the copyright information which is a crime.”

Why This is Relevant to Canadians like me?
While it is unlikely that Canada will follow blindly in the legal footsteps of the USA (see these recent rulings), there is some precedent in the rest of the world adopting aspects of American intellectual property law. Ironically it is the technology rather than the law that may end up regulating our behaviour, given that much of the technology we use is designed for the American market Canada will suffer the effects of any draconian DRM legislation both as consumers and suppliers of technology.

If you are an American, you can do something about it here

Further reading on the INDUCE ACT
Wired does an excellent job of introducing the people to the pending act in: Copyright Proposal Induces Worry. For those with a more legal bent (i.e. my good friend Beast) see the definitive site on the topic and start with The Obsessively Annotated Introduction to the INDUCE Act.

For the big picture on international IP issues read: Geneva Declaration on the Future of the World Intellectual Property Organization.

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