Copyright Hawks on Capitol Hill
Have you been keeping up with the copyright debates? If you haven't, you should be. Events of the past year have proved time and again that consumer rights over copyrighted content are still in question, as far as the Recording Association Industry of America (RIAA), Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Congress and the courts are concerned. Some retailers think these debates don't affect them, but they couldn't be more wrong. Potential federal laws and constant lawsuits threaten not only the products dealers carry, but in some cases, the dealers themselves.
Here's a recap of what's been going on:
Congress adjourns without passing the Induce Act. The "Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act of 2004" (S.2560), proposed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, was crafted for vote in the 108th Congress. According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the act, in its original form, would criminalize the act of "intentionally inducing" an individual to commit copyright violation, even if the individual were unaware of it at the time. CEA vehemently opposed the act, stating "it would limit the freedom of consumers to purchase and use technology, undermining the established principle of fair use." The act was so vague, critics argued consumers could be liable for simply showing someone how to copy a file on a PC or hold dealers liable for selling products to an individual who was later caught bootlegging content. The law was revised to ease liabilities on third parties, but its language still disturbed the critics. It became a moot point, because the Congress adjourned and never passed it.