The Senate Judiciary Committee announced late tonight (July 15) that it will hold a hearing to examine the so-called Induce Act on July 22 in Room 226 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building.

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced late tonight (July 15) that it will hold a hearing to examine the so-called Induce Act on July 22 in Room 226 of the Senate Dirksen Office Building.

The "Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act," S. 2560 -- introduced by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, and co-sponsored by top Republican and Democrat leadership -- states that whoever "intentionally induces," or "intentionally aids, abets, counsels or procures" any violation of copyright "shall be liable as an infringer." The bill, introduced in the Senate on June 22, would allow artists and labels to sue peer-to-peer companies on the grounds that they profit from encouraging minors and others to commit copyright infringement.

The legislation has set off a firestorm of opposition, with record companies and artists on one side and consumer-electronics firms, Internet companies and high-tech communities on the other.

Opponents say the bill's broad language will stifle creation of new technologies and products. They are also fearful that under the legislation, the "safe harbor" standard set by the Supreme Court in the 1984 Sony-Betamax case may be overturned, thereby subjecting the makers and distributors of consumer products to liability.

On July 9, a coalition of 43 groups opposing the measure wrote a letter to Hatch, the outgoing chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and committee members. The signatories, including the Electronic Freedom Foundation, Verizon, TiVo, Intel, Google, the Consumer Electronics Assn. and Public Knowledge, maintain that the law would "chill innovation" and drive investment in technology and accompanying jobs overseas.

On July 13, RIAA chairman/CEO Mitch Bainwol sent a letter of support for the legislation to every member of the Senate. In his first written public-policy request to Congress since taking the reins of the RIAA in July 2003, Bainwol says that none of the groups opposing the measure dispute the core issue: that copyright infringers should be penalized.

Artists groups including the Recording Artists Coalition also support the measure.