Sam came over to my desk on Thursday with the December issue of Software Development magazine and said I should read the article at the back of the magazine.

I soon noticed my name in the article as the author stated “I often use Web Developer, a Mozilla Firefox extension written by Chris Pederick”. Very cool, I thought, but Sam said I should keep reading. The article continued:

It’s a handy tool, and it’s most unfortunate that, if Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) has his way, my use of Web Developer may put Chris Pederick in the Big House. Why? Because if I use Web Developer to reverse-engineer a copyrighted “MegaCorp” website, MegaCorp could complain to the local U.S. Attorney that Chris Pederick “induced” me to reverse-engineer its website’s functionality, and in doing so, violate MegaCorp’s copyright. The vehicle with which Sen. Hatch could make Pederick a potential felon is the “Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act of 2004,” a controversial bill that, as of this writing, is in its fifth rewrite. Along with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), about which I wrote last month, the so-called “Induce Act” circumvents the fair use argument for copyrighted material by making it a federal offense to “intentionally induce” someone to infringe upon the rights of a copyright holder, regardless of whether the end user of the technology is legally entitled to use it.

At first I was shocked and did not really know what to make of the article, but it will be interesting to follow the progress of this “Induce Act” and see what form of the bill is eventually passed. If you wish to read more, the full article is available online.

In the meantime, if you want me to continue to fight MegaCorp and Senator Hatch, please make sure you donate!