When the Inducing Infringment of Copyrights Act (IICA, née INDUCE Act) first became news it was disparagingly (and rightfully so) compared to an infamous bill from 2002, the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Protection Act aka CBDTPA aka Hollings Bill (after the Senator who sponsored it) (INDUCE Act = Son of Hollings?). One of the most clever attacks on the CBDTPA was a little thing Ed Felten came up with on Freedom to Tinker: Fritz’s Hit List. What was Fritz’s Hit List? Well, the name came from Sen. “Fritz” Hollings. More importantly though and in Felten’s own words (New Feature: Fritz’s Hit List):
Most readers have probably heard me, or someone like me, say that the Hollings CBDTPA has far-reaching effects — that it would regulate virtually all digital devices, including many that have nothing at all to do with copyright infringement. Though this argument is right, it is too abstract to capture the full absurdity of the CBDTPA’s scope.To foster reasoned debate on this topic, I’m inaugurating a new daily feature here at freedom-to-tinker.com, called “Fritz’s Hit List.” Each entry will give an actual example of a device that would meet the CBDTPA’s definition of “digital media device” and would thereby fall under the heavy hand of CBDTPA regulation.
I’ll post a new example every weekday for as long as I can keep it up. Please email me if you want to suggest an example. (I have plenty of good ones in the queue already, but your suggestions may be better than mine.)
Well, I think the far-reaching effects of the INDUCE Act are worthy of similar treatment. So, starting today, I will endeavor to post every weekday an example of a nascent technology that can be quashed by the INDUCE Act. Of course, “Orrin’s Hit List” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, thus “Hatch’s Hit List.” As with Fritz’s Hit List, please email me (ernest.miller 8T aya.yale.edu) with suggestions. Read on…
The entire list can be found here: Hatch’s Hit List
Hatch’s Hit List #1: WiFi Car Stereos
Ford has released the first production car with WiFi so that you can transfer MP3s from PC to car wirelessly (SUV’s Wi-Fi system lets drivers leave CDs at home). On Copyfight Donna Wentworth notes that this capability is just begging to be sued under the INDUCE Act (Cars + WiFi + Digital Music = Induce Bait). She’s right.
After all, you have other automakers, such as BMW, offering digital music for car stereos but through a safe, DRM’d product (You Just Can’t Trust BMW Owners). Clearly, offering wireless transfers of non-DRM’d music is begging for piracy. For example, see this article on Ford’s newest car accessory (Wi-Fi In Cars — The More Practical Version):
[S]ometimes the most useful technologies have a way of “sneaking” their way into the market. They’re designed for one small thing, but people figure out ways to use them for much, much more.
Isn’t that what Ford is trying to do, “sneak” P2P into its cars? Indeed, Ford should know better; check out the first comment on the article (I’m not making this up):
He he, this might be the start of those P2P highway networks we’ve already mentionned 😉
Or how about this post on Boing Boing by the notorious Cory Doctorow (WiFi car-stereos):
A new generation of WiFi-equipped in-car MP3 players is shipping. The possibilities are endless — imagine a traffic-jam-area file-sharing/streaming net…
Or how about some of the conversations in the forums of Rockford Omnifi Media (makers of aftermarket MP3 WiFi Car Stereos) (Omnifi™ for the Car: How can I get my MP3’s off of my DMP1 drive?):
OK…hear’s my deal – I am about 2600 miles from home…on a really long business trip. I happen to have my car (and my Omnifi DMP1) with me, but of course I do not have the computer that holds all of my MP3’s. I recently bought an iPod and I am trying to figure out a way to copy the music off of my DMP1 drive and onto my new iBook so I can load all of that music on my iPod. Any ideas? …. There is an app to get content from you Omnifi Hard Drive: http://members.cox.net/omnifiuser/ Don’t know if it will run on a Mac, but it’s Java & opensource. Might want to e-mail the author.
A business trip, yeah, sure. You don’t have your computer that has the MP3s, but you’ve got a brand new iBook and iPod. Ooookay. Clearly, however, Omnifi Media knows that its consumers are writing apps letting people upload music from its players: Doctorow’s Car Audio Paaaartay!
Heck, check out this review that Omnifi Media touts: Driving Beats [PDF]. The magazine is the hardcopy edition of WIRED – the infamous Feb 2003 edition – the one with the Hindenberg on the cover under the title “Rip. Mix. Burn” and the subtitle “The Fall of the Music Industry.”
And don’t even go to the forums over on Rockford Fosgate (another audio electronics company owned by the same people who own Omnifi – originally Omnifi was part of Rockford Fosgate) (The Lounge: Music Tracks: Downloading):
anyone else been having trouble with kazaa? it seems most of the songs i dload go haywire after the first 15 seconds or so. is there any other software ya’ll use to dload besides overnet? i couldnt get overnet to dload anything.
The forums might not be moderated, but that doesn’t mean that the people at Rockford don’t read them. After all, why have forums at all if you aren’t going to read them for feedback from your customers?
Clearly, copyright will be much more secure when the INDUCE Act is used to ensure that car stereos are required to incorporate DRM. Of course, that will probably mean that your Ford might not be able to downloads WMA files from your Wintel box, and your Chevy won’t accept iTunes from your G5. But, hey, copyright is more important that compatibility, convenience and ease-of-use, right?
Bonus LawMeme Poll
LawMeme is running a new poll which asks:
What Will Be Banned First If the INDUCE Act Passes?
- Senator Hatch
- Fred von Lohmann
- Common Sense