Is Europe About To Make Offering Internet Service A Criminal Offense?

from the punishment-fits-the-crime? dept

Remember Orrin Hatch’s wonderful proposed law, the INDUCE Act? While it never passed, the recent Grokster decision did set up an “inducement” standard in determining if a company could be sued for violating copyright law. However, over in Europe they’re taking the concept of the Induce Act much farther. In what’s described as a mere “footnote” to a bill on making copyright laws uniform across Europe, it includes language that would criminalize “attempting, aiding or abetting and inciting” acts of copyright infringement. Aiding and abetting can cover a lot of ground. It would seem that your computer manufacturer, your ISP and, perhaps, your CDR drive maker would all be guilty of these things — and therefore face criminal charges, including up to four years in jail. Meanwhile, of course, the recording industry is complaining that these rules are not strict enough. Should this pass, don’t be surprised if the US later tries to come up with something similar under the concept of making the laws uniform between the US and Europe. Even better, they’ll just make it a bit stricter, so that Europe will feel the need to then make their own laws even stricter. It’s the global game of leapfrog that we’ve seen before.

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