IPac in Wired

Check out the Wired News story titled Battling the Copyright Big Boys, which provides a great introduction to what we, at IPac are building, and the goals we aim to accomplish. There is a lot to do, so if you have some time, and care about copyright and intellectual property issues (including whether or not you can record your favorite TV show), then stop by the IPac site, and sign up!

Donna Wentworth makes a great point concerning how to help us fight bad law. In her post about the story she recommends that people “give up today’s (and/or tomorrow’s) wildly over-priced Starbucks latte and make a donation to IPac.”

Chris Rush Cohen of the INDUCE Act Blog has also provided coverage and kind words regarding the IPac story. It’s great to see the word spreading!

Induce Act Stalls

Great News! The INDUCE Act has stalled, and is most likely out for the rest of 2004 according to an AP story, as reported by Newsday, and linked to by Copyfight. A quote from the story:

Sensing an impasse after weeks of acrimonious debate, Hatch invited lawyers and lobbyists representing the sides to propose their own compromise in the waning days of this congressional session. But the sides agreed overnight that a compromise was increasingly unlikely given the tight deadline, according to participants in the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Hatch canceled plans Thursday to present the bill to the Judiciary Committee, and participants in the talks said there would likely be no movement on the proposal in the immediate future. Hatch has previously said he intended to pursue the legislation next session if a bill wasn’t approved. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., is expected to take over as Judiciary chairman early next year.

Hatch’s Hit List: 14 – 19

While I don’t have time to comment on these at the moment, I hope that I wil lbe able to offer up my thoughts on future list items, now that I am caught up. I may also swing back and comment upon select Hit List entries if time allows.

  • Hatch’s Hit List #14 – Deepnet Explorer

    If enough browsers had built-in P2P, then many websites would be able to effectively offload much of their bandwidth needs. Rather than linking to the file with HTTP, they would link to the file with a bandwidth-sharing P2P protocol. Which protocol? Wouldn’t really matter, actually. Heck, maybe the link would be to a hash that the browser would use to launch a search for the appropriate file via several protocols. Makes a lot of sense for certain types of legitimate distribution actually.

  • Hatch’s Hit List #15 – Ringtone Remixers

    Custom ringtones are very handy for distinguishing your phone (and yourself) from the crowd, as this (SSEYO Ringtone Remixer with DJ Spuddy) ringtone remixing website notes:

    Anyone can create a ringtone remix of a popular track with just a few mouse clicks! Select the ringtone you want, make and preview your remix, and then send your handywork to your mobile phone. Easy, and cool.

    Well, that sounds like a derivative work to me. The intent is also extremely clear from the reference to a “popular” track. Clearly, a codeword for a copyrighted track.

  • Hatch’s Hit List #16 – The New York Times

    Yesterday, the New York Times published an article in their Circuits section that painted a romantic picture of copyright infringers who violate the public perfomance right for films (Now Playing, a Digital Brigadoon). The article was about “guerilla drive-in” theater, in which copyright pirates go to public spaces (sometimes trespassing) and project films so that anyone can watch them. Rather than condemning the copyright thieves for what they were, the article seemed favorably inclined to what they were doing. It called them “hipsters” and “impresarios” and “movie buffs” when, in fact, they are the enemy of legitimate film.

    The article touted the fact that the scoundrels used many devices that should be on Hatch’s Hit List, including one that has already been covered: Hatch’s Hit List #3 – AM/FM Transmitters. The article is practically a “how-to” for piracy.

    A reasonable person would realize that reporting about these events will induce some people to participate or even start their own.

  • Hatch’s Hit List #17 – Cellphones with Hard Drives

    As hard drives (and digital storage in general) get smaller and cheaper (for example, Toshiba Whips Out Tiny Hard Drive, Smacks Apple​), undoubtedly we are going to see cellphone storage increase tremendously. Let’s see, a communication device with tons of digital storage? Sounds exactly like something the INDUCE Act would ban. Putting communication and storage together is just asking for trouble if the INDUCE Act passes.

  • Hatch’s Hit List #18 – Universal Turing Machine

    Turing machines seem pretty simple, so I can’t imagine why someone would need a “universal” one. Why not just build more of the single-purpose Turing machines? The only possible use I can see for a “universal” Turing machine is to copy what another copyrighted Turing machine does. If you give people a Universal Turing Machine, they will inevitably be induced to infringe copyrights with it. Any “reasonable person” can see that UTMs are, in reality, the most perfect copyright infringement devices ever invented.

  • Hatch’s Hit List #19 – Battle Torrent

Battle Torrent might be a great idea for letting people publish bulky files and engage in free expression, but that is precisely why the INDUCE Act will have to outlaw it.

Hatch’s Hit List: 9 – 13

Again, I do not have the time to provide commentary on Ernest Miller’s latest additions to Hatch’s Hit List, but I want to ensure you are aware of them:

  • Hatch’s Hit List #9 – Darknets

    For a number of reasons, some people don’t want to share certain files with the world. They would prefer to have private networks that restrict membership and are cryptographically obscured against prying eyes. For example, some may wish to share home videos solely with family and friends. Or perhaps the darknet can be used for ad hoc business collaboration. There are many, many legitimate uses (otherwise known as “substantial non-infringing” uses) for such darknets. Of course, there are just as many illegitimate uses, such as copyright infringement.

  • Hatch’s Hit List #10 – 3D Scanners

    Of course, that is the problem with new technology, people don’t see how, in a few years, they might come to be seen as irreplaceable: how did we ever live without it? Not every technology ends up being useful, of course, but plenty of them went through a stage where their ultimate promise wasn’t quite clear…

    Sounds pretty good to me. Lots of people are doing animation at home, as well as creating models for 3D game mods. Some of them would likely love to use a consumer 3D scanner to make creating such models easily (think about what you could add to “The Sims”!). And, of course, if you have a 3D Printer as well, watch out – the potential uses are unlimited (Hatch’s Hit List #2 – 3D Printers)!

    Who knows what other great uses people may come up with for 3D scanners? Sizing for mail order clothes? It doesn’t really matter, however, because, if the INDUCE Act passes, many of the initial uses are clearly going to involve copyright infringement.

  • Hatch’s Hit List #11 – Virtual Jigsaw Puzzles

    Who hasn’t put together a jigsaw puzzle at one point or another? Of course, physical puzzle pieces have a tendency to get bent through enthusiasm, or even lost. So why not a virtual puzzle on your PC, where pieces can’t get lost? Alright, so maybe it isn’t as fun, but it sure seems popular given the number of virtual puzzle programs out there.

  • Hatch’s Hit List #12 – FreeCache

    Basically, the system reduces bandwidth by caching large files nearer the users. Unlike other caches, the various “FreeCaches” distribute information among themselves. This means that bandwidth required for the original site is minimized. This is an excellent means for those without lots of spare bandwidth to distribute larger files.

    Of course, if the INDUCE Act as currently written becomes law, lawyers are going to start asking some very disturbing questions regarding why the notorious copyright scofflaws at the Internet Archive developed such a system they knew could be easily abused by infringers. Heck, anyone can come along and make infringing material available via FreeCache.

  • Hatch’s Hit List #13 – Disaster Relief Communication Systems

    Well, one of the goals of the project is:

    Using off-the-shelf hardware and software, including some technology developed in Silicon Valley, the team will install the system under deliberately harsh circumstances. It will be designed to help get crucial information where it’s needed, securely and reliably, but not in a way where it’s subject to central control….From the standpoint of tomorrow’s communications, Strong Angel has enormous potential. If it’s possible to create what amounts to a cheap, ad-hoc, reliable and secure information network under difficult circumstances, human freedom itself could get a boost. Such a system could help bring a freer flow of information to places where dictatorships or lack of a standard infrastructure have kept information in the hands of a few.

    Again, sounds good. However, any such system will likely have many copyright infringing possibilities, especially if a cheap and reliable version is made readily available to the public.

Catching up to INDUCE

As I have been slammed with work and personal events, I haven’t kept my site up to date with news of the INDUCE Act. So, here is a quick post of links, likely to be followed by others, to try to atone for my sin:

Hatch's Hit List: 5 – 8

Well, sadly I don’t have the time to comment on Ernest Miller’s latest batch of Hit List items at the moment, but I want to ensure everyone is at least aware of the articles. I will try to add commentary when/if time allows.

  • Hatch’s Hit List #5 – Automatic Online Translators

    Ever do a search on Google and some of the results weren’t in English? Notice that little “Translate this Page” next to the link? Yeah, that’s an inducement. Google is practically begging you to create a derivative work.

  • Hatch’s Hit List #6 – Legos

    Take for example Lego Mosaics, which would be derivative works of the original image. Lego will let you upload a picture file and then, using their Brick-o-Lizer, let you create a custom Lego mosaic from the photo. The next step is for Lego to ship you the custom kit, after you pay them $29.95 (aka commercial viablity).

  • Hatch’s Hit List #7 – VoIP

    Inevitably, some of these developing and interesting uses for VoIP are going to lead to copyright infringement. Why is the attached .wav file necessarily a phone call? VoIP is so cheap in many cases, why not use it as a streaming radio station (which might merely be a form of conference call)? All these interesting and innovative uses will likely make our telephones even more useful than before. However, how much innovation will Hollywood permit in the development of unique VoIP applications if the INDUCE Act passes?

  • Hatch’s Hit List #8 – Worth1000 Photoshop Contests

    Worth1000 is “a daily image manipulation contest site.” Basically, it is a website for competitive photoshopping. Everyday, there are new photoshopping contests such as Unsung Vending Machines 2 and If Dogs Ruled. The contest entries are frequently hilarious and often brilliant work. Additionally, W1K is not only a contest site, but a community where people share their knowledge and love of this new art form. Too bad that the INDUCE Act will make the site lawsuit-bait.

Hatch's Hit List Continued

Ernest, from The Importance of… expands Hatch’s Hit List:

It is important to demonstrate that this law will affect a wide range of items that we use now, and that we may well come to depend on in the future. While most of the public may not care about AM/FM Transmitters or Arcade Emulators (let’s face it, they appeal to those of us with a dominant geek side), people may not even have the chance to use a 3D printer. It may be hard to imagine what one will do with a 3D printer at first, but that very fact is one of the important reasons why we need to ensure that we, the public have access to it. Yes, there is a very real likelihood that there will be copyright infringement due to the printer. Just as there is for photocopiers, fax machines and our regular printers. But, there is a much higher likelihood that people will take the new technology and use it to transform life, improve day to day tasks and perhaps have a larger impact on the world around them.

Just as standards printers have become ubiquitous for school assignments -many of us were a part of the the transition from hand written reports to printed essays – new technology could well expand the possibilities for a student to demonstrate their point, illustrate an example or stand out in a field of normal papers.

Wouldn’t it be great to have your own scale model of the house your building to go along with the blueprints? I think so. If 3D printing is introduced to the market, and follows the normal technology and price curve, it would not be long before architectural firms could easily provide miniature models to better show what the home buyer is purchasing. I bet there would be much less confusion, and ultimately a more efficient, and more pleasant experience for both the purchaser and the builder. And hey, I think it would be pretty damn cool to have a small version of my house (or house-to-be) sitting on my desk.

Let’s extend this idea further. I have been using the Web to find plans that will show me how to add a small set of stairs to the side door of the house. While there are some great examples, providing a lot of detail, and several angles, I know it would be much easier if I just had an example to look at – even better if I can spin it in my hands to see what the bottom looks like.

The same concept could easily be extended to trade schools and universities:

  • Tests requiring that students demonstrate optimal ways to route pipes or wiring in a complex environment
  • An assignment to show an architectural design students can balance form with function
  • Physical assembly of proposed traffic flow patterns for an engineering class.

All of these possibilities, plus countless more that we have yet to imagine may well be cut off with the passage of Senator Hatch’s INDUCE Act. We will lose an improved future because a “representative of the people” is obeying the wishes of one of his largest contributors.

High Tech Speaks Up

As reported by The Importance of… and Copyfight, some major players in the High Tech industry are requesting hearings for the INDUCE Act. According to USA Today​:

Internet search giants Google and Yahoo, chipmaker Intel, Internet service provider Verizon, auctioneer eBay, website operator Cnet Networks, and phone company MCI are among 42 companies and groups who signed a letter that will be delivered Tuesday to bill author Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, requesting hearings on the issue.

The EFF has been kind enough to post a copy of the letter.

Congressman Boucher Stands Up

As reported in The Register’s story Hatch’s Induce Act comes under fire, Congressman Rick Boucher (D – Virginia) is fighting the INDUCE Act, saying that the legislation “is very poorly defined” and that its broad language “could target just about anyone. Even a university giving its students broadband access, could, under the current wording, be construed as inducing a copyright breach.” Representative Boucher is responsible for the creation of the House Internet Caucus in 1996, and several technology initiatives.

While his Web site could use a serious redesign, Representative Boucher keeps Internet and technology legislation high on his agenda. He has recently introduced the Digital Millennium Consumers’ Rights Act, a bill that would make substantial changes to the DMCA, repealing many of its threats to fair use, and the rights of the consumer. In the hearing held on Boucher’s Bill (H.R. 107), he explained:

The fair use doctrine is threatened today as never before. Historically, the nation’s copyright laws have reflected a carefully calibrated balanced between the rights of copyright owners and the rights of the users of copyrighted material. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act dramatically tilted the copyright balance toward complete copyright protection at the expense of the Fair Use rights of the users of copyrighted material,” Boucher said. “H.R. 107 will assure that consumers who purchase digital media can enjoy a broad range of uses of the media for their own convenience in a manner which does not infringe the copyright in the work,

I highly recommend you learn more about his Internet initiatives, as he appears to be one of the few in our government to truly understand the nature of technology, and the importance of balancing the rights of corporations and consumers.

Update
The Importance of… has picked up the story as well, towards the end of the post Opposition to INDUCE Act (IICA) Getting Mainstream Press – Bill Still Moving Through Senate Quickly, pointing to one of the few articles from a major media organization (USA Today): Copyright bill poses threat to iPod’s future

Overstatement and IICA

Susan Crawford presents a compelling case to bring the INDUCE Act to a hearing on the Senate floor in her article Overstatement and IICA. She addresses both sides of the issue on three fundamental questions:

  1. Will the bill cripple the development of new technology?
  2. Will the bill broaden secondary liability for copyright infringement in ways we cannot predict?
  3. Will the bill render Sony irrelevant?

More on the INDUCE Act

This is just a quick post with some informative perspectives on the INDUCE Act. Sadly, I do not have the time to comment on all of them at present, though I do hope to post about select articles when my schedule allows. Anyway, here are the links:

The INDUCE Act and the Right to Prepare Derivative Works

Ernest, provides additional insight into the ramifications of the INDUCE Act on his site( The Importance of…) in a new article titled The INDUCE Act and the Right to Prepare Derivative Works. His perspectives on this issue and many others in the realm of copyrights are extremely informative for those of us who are just now learning of the issues. Yet again, Ernest points out the details and effects that may not be obvious on first blush. Well, at the very least, they were not obvious to me:

Most of the commentary on the Act and what technologies, creativity and innovation it threatens have focused on two types of infringement, those of the right of reproduction (the right to make copies) and the right of public distribution. We should remember, however, that there are other exclusive rights that can be infringed. The intersection of the INDUCE Act with these other exclusive rights will create an even broader swath of technology and acts that Hollywood will have an effective veto over. Let’s consider one of these other rights and the technologies that might be affected.

According to 17 USC 106, the second exclusive right is the right “to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work.”

That is a very scary proposition on a number of fronts as it could lead to so many more lawsuits, and legal bullying by large companies, driving innovators and fans into hiding, if not apathy. Ultimately, the INDUCE Act could prove harmful to the U.S. economy as we will lose ground to other nations who do not place such strict controls on innovation and product evolution.

Litigation to Stop Innovation

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has created a Fake Complaint against Apple, Toshiba, and C-Net for Inducing Infringement of Copyrights to demonstrate the potential damage of the INDUCE Act should it pass. Scroll down to page three of the PDF version to read the actual complaint.

I think the complaint provides the best perspective of any coverage of the issue for those of us who aren’t directly involved in copyright law as it breaks it down into specific, real world acts that could set off litigation and crush our rights and future innovations.

The EFF also provides an easy to use method to write your senator about the issue. All you have to do is fill in your name and address. You aren’t locked into the letter that they provide you either, if you want to modify the letter to suit your needs, you can.

INDUCE ACT Part 3

Senator Hatch’s INDUCE Act is gaining more coverage as each day passes, though I have yet to spot anything from the major media outlets. Are you surprised? No, I didn’t think so. I’m not. Wired has posted a story this morning covering the backlash titled File-Trading Bill Stokes Fury and other sites have started to report the Senator’s plans to fundamentally change copyright law in favor of the media conglomerates. Ars Technica has also published a piece: Induce Act seeks to eliminate innovation.

INDUCE Act

The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently broke the story about the latest rights-constricting work of Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah): the INDUCE Act. As the EFF put it:

It’s the Hollings Bill by other means — an over-reaching new form of indirect liability that will force technology companies of all kinds to “ask permission” before innovating for fear of ruinous litigation if they don’t.

And so another front in the copyright wars opens, with the aggressors waving the bloody flag of file sharing, but really aiming at a much bigger target.

INDUCE stands for “Inducement Devolves into Unlawful Child Exploitation Act of 2004″. Go ahead, read that again. Yeah, that’s right, copyright laws, and ultimately your rights to make use of media that you have legally purchased will be directly affected by a law meant to protect children from exploitation. By hiding the new restrictions in a child exploitation law, he can try to crush the opposition by painting anyone against the proposed changes as not wanting to protect children. Utterly despicable, though not surprising coming from a politician who has received substantial contributions from the TV/Movies/Music industry, and advocated the idea that media companies should have the right to destroy the computers of people downloading copyrighted media – while his very own Web site was using unlicensed software. Brilliant.

Professor Susan Crawford has posted the draft text of the bill (PDF) and provides additional insight into the matter:

The Act (to be proposed tomorrow by songwriter Sen. Hatch and others) amends the copyright law to say that anyone who “induces” copyright infringement is himself/itself an infringer.

“Induce” means intentionally aids, abets, counsels, or procures. So you can’t even hire a lawyer if you’re doing something risky.

If we don’t put a stop to this now, your VCR may well be illegal in the near future. I am going to follow this issue and post more news as I find it. For now here are some other sites discussing the matter: