Many people are up in arms about the proposed INDUCE Act, which, as this Wired Magazine article describes it, takes aim at devices that “induce or encourage buyers to make illegal copies of songs, movies or computer programs.” Many people are clamoring that the INDUCE Act can theoretically apply to ban the sale of iPods.
First, I’m not a fan of the INDUCE Act. It’s another ill-conceived piece of legislation that is designed to make the content providers feel safer from the threat of evolving technology. I think they should spend more time figuring out how to create a business model that dovetails with evolving technologies, rather than trying to subject evolving technologies to the societal bottleneck that we call our legal system.
Having said that, I’m also going to say that I’m not a fan of the whole ‘chicken little’ approach that some opponents of the INDUCE Act are taking. When you try to get people’s attention by saying that the INDUCE Act threatens the iPod you just lose credibility. Instinctively, we all know in our gut that Apple’s fabulously successful device, which is used by all kinds of celebrities and musicians, is not going to be subjected to restrictions based on the INDUCE Act. Oh, sure, one could argue about the theoretical lawsuit that could be filed to limit use or sale of the iPod, but who is really going to bring that lawsuit? The record companies? After most of them have cut deals to sell music through iTunes Music Store? No, I don’t see it.
The reality is that the INDUCE Act, if it is passed, might perhaps threaten some innovation and may even lead to some stupid lawsuits. But it isn’t going to threaten the iPod, and people who make that argument are engaging in foolish demagoguery. Which proves that ‘foolish demagoguery’ isn’t the exclusive province of companies that are threatened by new technologies.