The MP3Blue Jacket and My Copyright Solution

Monday, July 26 2004 @ 04:50 PM EDT

Contributed by: PJ

Here's something new. A jacket that plays MP3s:

"Infineon Technologies AG and German clothing manufacturer rosner GmbH & Co. said Monday that they have jointly developed a men's jacket, known as mp3blue, that contains built-in mobile telephony via Bluetooth and an MP3 player. A textile keyboard on the sleeve controls the electronic features. The product is scheduled to become available for order on the Internet in August at

"Electrically conductive fabric is sewn into the mp3blue jacket. It's connected to a compact electronics module and a textile keyboard on the left sleeve. The headphones and the microphone are integrated into the collar. The module contains an MP3 player with 128 Mbytes of memory, a Bluetooth gateway to control a mobile telephone, and a rechargeable battery that can supply power for up to eight hours. When the wearer of the jacket places a telephone call, the stereo system becomes a headset and the music is automatically interrupted when calls come in. To wash the jacket, it's necessary to remove the electronics module from its holder."

Somebody better tell Orrin Hatch. He's so busy trying to batten down the hatches for the music industry, he may have missed this one. He'll have a cow.

The INDUCE Act (Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act), which was supposed to breeze through Congress while no one was looking, got placed on a slower track, which you can read about on Corante with more details on Law Meme, which provides a list of attorney Ernest Miller's writings on the subject and a list of the hardware INDUCE would allegedly outlaw. INDUCE would make it a crime to aid, abet, or induce copyright infringement. EFF pointed out that companies like Apple could conceivably be sued for inventing the iPod and inducing its customers to infringe copyrights:

"Because the Induce Act defines 'intent' as being 'determined by a reasonable person taking into account all relevant facts,' it's unlikely that a technology company like Apple would be able to easily dismiss any lawsuit brought against it. It would face the prospect of an expensive trial, with all the attendant legal fees and negative publicity. One such company, SonicBlue, recently fought against a group of copyright holders in court over its ReplayTV and spent close to $1,000,000 per month in legal fees alone. In essence, this means that copyright owners can use the 'inducement' theory to inflict an arbitrarily large penalty on any tech company that builds a device they don't like."

Imagine such a bill in the hands of SCO. They'd be in court forever and a day. And no hope for summary disposition either. Your "intent" can never be a matter of law, I don't think, so it'd be a fact issue for a jury. A SCO dream come true.

Well, that seemed to get folks' attention. Nobody dares to try to rip peoples' iPods out of their hands. So they've been having hearings on INDUCE, they being the Senate Judiciary Committee. You might be interested to know that the representative from the Copyright Office, MaryBeth Peters, the first witness, testified that the bill is superlatively wonderful, except it doesn't go far enough, and that actually Congress really should just overturn the Betamax case. It seems in the digital age, Betamax is extra baggage. Say, who pays her salary? If you would like to read her remarks, here you go. Actually, she needn't worry about VCRs and such. I believe the DRM conspirators have a plan to cripple Betamax anyway.

Mr. Hatch introduced the bill, saying:

"Criminal law defines 'inducement' as 'that which leads or tempts to the commission of crime. Some P2P software appears to be the definition of criminal inducement captured in computer code."

Seth Finkelstein writes that copyright is broken and no one knows what to do about it:

"By this, I don't mean something silly, not property-is-theft. Rather, I mean something deep, that the technological change has completely disrupted the extremely complex set of functional compromises that made copyright work in practice (for example, formerly being almost entirely a restriction on businesses, but now turning into a control on users and technology development). . . .

"The problem is that there may be no equitable solution which both preserves openness and current industry profits. Repeating that these both should be served, doesn't make it so. We have improvement in the ability to exchange information again colliding with a social regime which says information must be controlled."

The screaming rush to pass INDUCE is most likely the Grokster case. The very first article I wrote for Groklaw was about that case, and I covered the oral arguments on appeal in February as well, briefly. A more thorough analysis is here. A ruling is expected soon, and the music industry may be worried. Media coverage of the oral arguments seemed to feel that the music industry lost. If you can't win under old laws, write something to suit. The judge in the Grokster case pretty much said that was the industry's only hope against Grokster, suggesting that maybe Congress could change the law if it wanted to, but until it did, he felt bound by the Supreme Court's Betamax ruling, given the facts in this case. Well, some in Congress wanted to, and that is exactly what they are trying to do.

Now that more people have had time to actually notice this bill's details, however, and many see INDUCE as attacking technology innovation, a stand-back has begun. Even the BSA has begun to distance itself. Hatch asked for better language from his opponents, so Mr. Miller has provided alternative language for him.

Reading about the new jacket and how copyright is broken and all, I started to muse and here is my suggestion on how to deal with copyright infringement, if Mr. Hatch would like another suggestion. If the jacket were to let one download mp3s, not just listen to them, or heavens! even share, my suggestion is that if the wearer is caught in such criminal behavior, we chop off the electrified sleeve, arm and all. That should be a sufficient deterrent.

As for those brainiacs who keep stretching techonology to do more than the Congresscritters can keep up with, I think a public beheading would be fitting. On TV and available on the Internet. Unfortunately, Mr. Valenti retired before getting to be the first with the hood and saber, but Mr. Hatch might ask him to come out of retirement briefly for the ceremonial first beheading. The screams alone should terrify all those criminally induced kids watching what is in store for them. That should take care of those unnecessary brains that keep interfering with people's profits. These guys just know too much. Brains are stored inside the head, aren't they? I think the solution is obvious.

You think my solution is too extreme? Surely you jest. We are at a crossroads here. It's people or profits. What are people compared to profits? And the real problem isn't hardware or copyright, after all. It's thoughts. Thinking. If we could just control people's thoughts, we'd solve this problem at the core. The problem is the ability to think up new ways to use technology. We just can't have that and keep the music industry execs in BMWs. So, I say no more mollycoddling. Let's strike at the heart of the conspiracy and solve the copyright problem once and for all. The music industry's problem is P2P is an idea. And it's a better method of music distribution. Not better for them, of course, under their old business model. But better in every other way. How do you stomp on an idea, when as Thomas Jefferson wrote, "[t]he moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one"?

"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation." -- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Isaac McPherson, August 13, 1813.

Of course, Jefferson probably hadn't thought of my solution, creative thinker though he was. It is, after all, the fundamental cure to the spread of new ideas, and I hope Mr. Hatch recognizes it as the ultimate solution he is looking for to the problem he wishes to solve.