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Senate Bill Targets File Swapping Networks

The current law states that peer-to-peer networks can't be held liable if consumers use them to distribute copyrighted material.

The U.S. Senate has introduced a bill that would make it easier for artists to sue file-swapping services like Kazaa and Morpheus.

Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), (R-S.C.), and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) are the co-Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Lindsey Graham sponsors of the "Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act of 2004," which would allow companies to be held liable if they "intentionally induce" copyright infringement.

The bill, which was introduced late Tuesday, has some powerful backers: Hatch and Leahy are the chairman and ranking Democrat, respectively, on the Senate Judiciary Committee, while Frist and Daschle are the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, respectively.

Under a recent federal court ruling, which is being appealed, peer-to-peer networks can't be held liable if consumers use them to distribute copyrighted works.

"This carefully drafted, bipartisan bill would respond to this erroneous decision by confirming that existing law should allow artists to bring civil actions against parties who intend to induce others to infringe copyrights," said Hatch in a statement.

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