Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced a late-session bill tonight (June 22), nicknamed the Induce Act. The legislation would allow artists and labels

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced a late-session bill tonight (June 22), nicknamed the Induce Act. The legislation would allow artists and labels to sue peer-to-peer companies that profit from encouraging minors and others to commit copyright infringement.

As reported yesterday, the one-page bill, the "Inducement Devolves into Unlawful Child Exploitation Act of 2004," says that whoever "intentionally induces," or "intentionally aids, abets, counsels or procures" any violation of copyright "shall be liable as an infringer." Hatch removed language that could also apply to lawyers who take on P2P services as clients.

Also reported yesterday, such an inducement statute could sidestep the defense against contributory infringement in the KaZaA and Grokster court rulings that employment of technology that can be used to infringe copyrights is legal if it also has a non-infringing use.

Co-sponsors of the legislation will include Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Bill Frist, D-Tenn., Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, D-S.D., Senate minority leader, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Barbara Boxer, D-Cal.

"Tragically, some corporations now seem to think that they can legally profit by inducing children to steal," said Hatch in a statement. "Some think they can legally lure children into breaking the law with false promises of 'free music.' This carefully drafted, bipartisan bill would simply confirm that existing law should allow artists to bring civil actions against parties who intend to induce others to infringe copyrights."

"We are very supportive of this legislation," said director of the sound recording division of the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists (AFTRA) Ann Chaitowitz in a statement to Billboard. "The law permits civil enforcement only against parties who would already face criminal liability for intentional inducement and is technology neutral -- it targets behavior, not technology, that already violates the law."

Fair use groups and Internet freedom groups criticize the bill as draconian.