Earlier this week, I put together a list of some of the technologies that a law like COICA might have banned in the past
, noting that when they first came out, legacy industries condemned them as being "dedicated to infringing activities," which is the basis that the Justice Department would get to ban websites under COICA, in some cases with little or no due process. But some people have pointed out that it's worth pointing out some modern technologies that the entertainment industry is still trying to ban via lawsuit, which could potentially fit under the definitions in the law as well. For example:
- YouTube: While Viacom claims it's now okay with YouTube thanks to its ContentID system, if you read over Viacom's filings in the lawsuit, they make it clear that they believe YouTube was "dedicated to infringing activities." It's not hard to see that, if COICA had been around five years ago, there would be no YouTube today.
- Music lockers: As I mentioned recently, I've been playing around with a few music lockers, as a way of storing and backing up my (legal, authorized) music collection, and as a way to access it on the go. I can't see how it's infringing for me to make use of my own music in such a manner, but as we've seen with EMI's lawsuit against Michael Robertson and the MP3tunes locker, some record labels believe such things are "dedicated to infringing activities." Does it seem reasonable that the Justice Department can just block access to a site that lets me store my own music?
- Music search engines: Remember Seeqpod? It was a really useful search engine for music. It didn't store or transmit any music itself, but simply acted as Google. Warner Music and EMI both sued the company, forcing it to declare bankruptcy (and bizarrely, it was just bought by a DRM company). With a law like COICA, it would be even easier for the record labels and their former lawyers in the Justice Department to simply shut down really useful tools like Seeqpod.
And that's just the start. It's not difficult to think of all sorts of services that are coming out these days that are derided by anti-visionary industry lawyers as "dedicated to infringing activities." Do we really want to allow the federal government and a bunch of lawyers to kill off these technologies, without a lawsuit, and without a chance to demonstrate that they do a lot more than help people infringe?