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Senate Targets Digital Music Manufacturers

The Senate's new bill is designed to ban digital music devices that tempt consumers to buy copyrighted content.

New York, NY–Last month, Senator Orrin Hatch and the Judiciary Committee introduced the Inducing Infringements of Copyright Act (The INDUCE Act). The act, supported by the recording industry, is designed to ban digital music devices that tempt consumers to procure unauthorized, copyrighted content.

Under the bill, record labels could bring suit against US corporations that “intentionally induce” infringement. Only manufacturers who design products for legal uses”substantial non-infringing uses”will eschew punishment.

Despite the contention by Hatch that the new law won’t punish iPods and CD burners, The INDUCE Act is vague enough to target popular digital devices, claims P2P United, a peer-to-peer file sharing group. And, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the new bill would hold defendants liable for up to $150,000 for each song illegally copied by iPod users.

The iPod is the most successful portable digital music player in the world. Over three million iPods had been sold since its launch last year, driven by an aggressive marketing blitz and cult-like frenzy which surrounds it.

The right to manufacture non-infringing copies dates back to the 1984 Sony v. Universal (Betamax) case in which the US Supreme Court ruled that VCRs and analog cassette recorders were legal.

“It is illegal and immoral to induce or encourage children to commit crimes,” said Senator Hatch in a recent statement. “Tragically, some corporations now seem to think that they can legally profit by inducing children to steal. Some think they can legally lure children into breaking the law with false promises of ‘free music.'”

Debate on the controversial bill will commence when Congress opens its fall session on September 6, 2004.