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By Annalee Newitz

I HAVE a piece of underground Internet-distributed media stuck in my head, which is much worse than having a Metallica song in there. When I start singing a snatch of Jonny "the gay pimp" McGovern's tune "Lookin' Cute/Feelin' Cute," nobody has any idea what the hell I'm doing. So I have to get them all to download and share the video for it (you can get sucked in too at www.gaypimp.com/mvideo.html).

Now that practically everyone in my office has shared the chunk of digital media that's stuck in my head, I don't have to worry about sailing through the conference room singing, "Fuck them bitches—come to your gay pimp daddy!" They're all singing it, too. And we're dancing to Jonny McGovern's other fabulous music video, "Soccer Practice," which includes the memorable lines "I'm a dirty frat boy on a dirty soccer team ... it would be real hot if we could join the army." Download it yourself—you won't be able to get Jonny's cute little butt wiggle out of your mind. Then you'll start wiggling, too! But Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wants to change all that. And not for the reasons you're thinking: Hatch could give a crap about us getting all faggoty. He just wants to stop our infernal and potentially copyright-infringing downloads any way he can. That's why he's pushing his new bill, the Inducing Infringements of Copyright Act (formerly the INDUCE Act), and fast-tracking it to the Senate for a full vote.

The bill makes it illegal to "induce" copyright infringement by doing things like building CD burners, P2P networks and iPods. All of these technologies could arguably be said to induce copyright infringement by making it easy to copy and share media. Under IICA, Apple could be held liable for "inducement" simply because people use the iPod to infringe copyright. Also, anyone who gives out information that could lead to infringement would be liable, too. That means pro-sharing writers like yours truly would pay the price for your terrible crimes on P2P networks like BitTorrent.

But more importantly, IICA would prevent people from watching digital video files of my favorite gay pimp daddy. Windows Media Player and Real Player allow you to burn infringing copies of media to CD, so Microsoft and Real Networks would have to discontinue them or risk hefty lawsuits. No more watching "Soccer Practice" on your Windows machine. Also, I'm guessing that Jonny McGovern could be held liable for copyright infringement under IICA, too. After all, his videos are so excellent that they induce people to go on P2P networks to find them; then they stay there and download infringing materials as well. It's the old gateway-drug effect.

The beauty part about IICA for conservatives like Hatch is that it lets them condemn happy homos like Jonny for two reasons: the plucky performer is seducing all our innocent boys into lives of queer carnality, and he's inducing everyone else to infringe copyright. Go, Jonny, go!

You know, all this IICA stuff makes me feel a little bit sorry for the corporate giants like Apple, who could soon be losing their nifty pirate machines. But I feel even more sorry for the tragedies faced last week by media megacompanies like News Corp. and Tribune Co., whose efforts to completely monopolize all media outlets everywhere were crushed by a federal court in the 3rd Circuit. A couple of judges ruled that the FCC's deregulation plan—which would have allowed one company to own both the newspapers and radio stations in a local market—was ill-considered and should be stopped immediately. So NewsCorp can't own both the newspaper and the radio station in your town. That means you won't get the same exact Fox-style news stories in print and on the airwaves. Of course, one company can still own up to 40 percent of the media outlets in a given national market. We wouldn't want the news to get too heterogeneous.

After all, heterogeneity could induce you to infringe copyright. Oh, wait, no—homosexuality could induce you to infringe. Er, I mean, Apple could make you gay. Yeah, that's it! Steve Jobs is turning our boys into a bunch of pansies with those damn pastel-colored "mini" iPods. I can't wait for Sen. Hatch to shut him down.

Annalee Newitz ([email protected]) is a surly media nerd who was once induced to infringe copyright, but only because of peer-to-peer pressure.

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From the June 30-July 6, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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