You might think that as a shareware developer, I’d be in favor of any bill that penalizes copyright infringement. After all, I’ve made my views on piracy quite clear. However, the induce act introduced by Orrin Hatch went waaaay too far by making developers of file-sharing software liable for “inducing” their users to commit copyright infringement. I’m no fan of file-sharers who pass around pirated copies of my software, but holding the developers of P2P products liable is incredibly wrong-headed.
P2P is a pirate’s dream at the moment, so I guess I can understand why some politicians and their Hollywood sugar-daddies want to see file-sharing software crushed. But over the next few years P2P will increasingly be used for legitimate – and important – purposes, and I’d never favor any bill that stifles the innovation enabled by P2P software (BitTorrent in particular). So I’m glad to hear that the induce act has been shelved. I wish I could dance on its grave, but I’m quite certain it will pop up again in some other form.
As an aside, I’m also bothered by how fair use has been swept under the rug not only by politicians, but also by many software developers. There’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be able to create backups of your software, and you should be permitted to use purchased bits on any device you like. Many companies require purchasing separate licenses for each computer you install their software on, whereas the licenses for TopStyle and FeedDemon permit you to install them on any computer you use. This makes anti-piracy techniques harder since I can’t limit my software to a particular CPU, but I’m not about to criminalize legitimate usage of my work.