Remember the iPod? It was a sleek, well designed portable music device that had so much potential. Tragically, content protection law killed it off in the summer of 2005.
At least that’s what the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) predicted in June 2004. The EFF stated that the Induce Act could “potentially outlaw everything from CD burners to the iPod.” That act did not pass, but after the Supreme Court implemented much of the Induce Act in a June 2005 decision, the opposite was true.
In June 2005, the Supreme Court issued its decision in MGM v. Grokster, declaring that “one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties.” This essentially implemented important parts of the Induce Act that EFF criticized a year earlier.
And here’s what happened: just last month, Apple reported that 16 billion iTunes songs have been downloaded and 300 million iPods have been sold.
This prediction is important when considering what critics of proposed content protection laws are saying now.
Today, the House Judiciary is holding a hearing on important content protection and rogue sites legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R.3261). This bill and similar legislation in the Senate, the PROTECT IP Act (S.968), have bipartisan support and will preserve American jobs and target foreign websites that steal and profit from counterfeit goods and stolen creative content like books and movies and music.
Unfortunately, opponents of rogue sites legislation are continuing with their sky is falling rhetoric. The EFF is currently warning that the Stop Online Piracy Act will squelch free speech and threaten the existence of many well-known websites such as Etsy, Flickr, and Vimeo, stating that “one very possible outcome [of the Stop Online Piracy Act]: many of the lawful sites you know and love will face new legal threats.”
The EFF was wrong about content protection law in 2004 and they’re wrong again now.
If rogue sites legislation passes, American jobs will be protected and the Internet will continue to be alive with innovation, commerce and free speech. Content protection laws have given us the Internet of today and enabled the legal distribution of protected content like music or movies that are available on the iPod. So just keep in mind the track record of critics of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act.