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Ernest Miller Ernest Miller pursues research and writing on cyberlaw, intellectual property, and First Amendment issues. Mr. Miller attended the U.S. Naval Academy before attending Yale Law School, where he was president and co-founder of the Law and Technology Society, and founded the technology law and policy news site LawMeme. He is a fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Ernest Miller's blog postings can also be found @

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August 02, 2004

Hatch's Hit List #17 - Cellphones with Hard Drives

Posted by Ernest Miller

What is Hatch's Hit List? Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has introduced the Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act (IICA, née INDUCE Act) in the Senate. The bill would make it illegal to "intentionally induce" copyright infringement, but is worded so broadly that it would have all sorts of unintended consequences, one of which is to severely limit, cripple or kill innovation in many different fields. Hatch's Hit List is a daily exploration of some of the technologies and fields that the bill would likely affect. See also, Introducing Hatch's Hit List and the Hatch's Hit List Archives. Send list suggestions to ernest.miller 8T

Today on Hatch's Hit List: Cellphones with Hard Drives

I have to admit, this one is a bit farfetched. However, try to imagine a cellular phone company that isn't evil and actually believes in simply being a conduit for data without trying to control how that data is used or get paid for anything more than providing service. Yes, it might be hard to imagine a cellphone company like this, but give it your best shot.

As hard drives (and digital storage in general) get smaller and cheaper (for example, Toshiba Whips Out Tiny Hard Drive, Smacks Apple), undoubtedly we are going to see cellphone storage increase tremendously. Let's see, a communication device with tons of digital storage? Sounds exactly like something the INDUCE Act would ban. Putting communication and storage together is just asking for trouble if the INDUCE Act passes.

Luckily, however, we probably won't have to worry about it, since cellphone companies are rushing to encrypt and lock down their systems so that only the information and data they want to flow, will. How are they going to charge $2 for a new ringtone if people can download them from the internet? For example, one could provide MP3 capability for cellphones, but Motorola and Apple have signed a deal to provide DRM encrusted music instead (Apple - Moto ‘iPhone’ deal full of promise...).

Indeed, the first cellphone company that decides to offer a phone with MP3 capability and no DRM, because their customers would benefit from an open system, would be targeted. After all, the RIAA would claim that the company was not offering this theoretical open source phone to benefit the customers, but rather, to benefit internet pirates and profit from copyright infringement.

Want to know more about the INDUCE Act?
Please see LawMeme's well-organized index to everything I've written on the topic, including Hatch's Hit List: The LawMeme Reader's Guide to Ernie Miller's Guide to the INDUCE Act.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Hatch's Hit List | INDUCE Act


1. ben on August 2, 2004 09:34 PM writes...

Uhm, what you are suggesting already exists. As you already suggest, it's not whether the darn thing has a hard drive that counts, but what matters is the rapidly increasing size of cheap digital storage of any form. Most recent phones have enough memory and processing power to execute simple games and store various forms of possibly copyprotected media.

MAME, which you mentioned earlier in the "hit list", already runs on many embedded devices, such as Palm Pilots. It can be readily adapted, with a bit of programming skill, to be run on one of the more powerful phones.

INDUCE is an abomination.

P.S. -- I agree with you re JibJab...

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