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Topics: Copyright, Fair use, Copyright infringement Pages: 6 (965 words) Published: April 25, 2015

Property: Real, Personal and Intellectual
The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business

Property: Real, Personal and Intellectual

In SONY CORP. v. UNIVERSAL CITY STUDIOS, INC., 464 U.S. 417 (1984) 104 S. Ct. 774, Sony Corporation was the petitioner and Universal Studios was the respondent”1. This was an appeal to a higher court, after a lower court decision. “The case dealt with Sony Corp. being sued for manufactured video tape recorders (VTR's) infringing on Universal Studios copyrighted materials that were broadcasted on the public airwaves. "Respondents brought an action against petitioners alleging that VTR consumers had been recording copyrighted works. The question presented in the above case is whether the sale of copying equipment to the general public violates any of the rights granted under the Copyright Act. The outcome was that the sale of VTR's to the general public did not constitute contributory infringement of respondents' copyrights. According to the information presented within the decision, it was explained that since intellectual property such as copyrights, is statutory in nature (part of the US Code), and Congress did not outline how cases would be handled by the courts in any dispute. The Court in this case allowed any individual may reproduce a copyrighted work for a "fair use"; the copyright owner does not possess the exclusive right to such a use.”4

The District Court’s previous finding was that copyright holders who license their works for broadcast television, do not object to having their broadcast time-shifted by private viewers by recording the programs to be watched at a later time. As such, time-shifting would cause non-minimal harm. Making VTRs capable of providing a great deal of non-infringing uses.”7 A recording of a protected work, such as a TV program for private in-home viewing at a later date, satisfied the standard of non-infringing use. As a result of this, case 659 F.2d 963, was reversed. Looking at the definition of fair use, specifically item (1); ‘whether such use is of a commercial nature,’ the VTR recordings were not of a commercial nature, but rather for convenience of private viewing at a later time. It could be argued that watching this ‘rebroadcast’ of a show with a friend might be an infringement, but if no financial gain for the person making the recording occurs, is it really commercial rebroadcast? Taken one-step further, infringement would exist if something like a playoff game was recorded and shown to patrons in a bar, since the patrons would be buying drinks and food that have a profit attached to it.

Sony should have prevailed in this lawsuit, but I would have ruled against them if the VTR had two places for the videotape, allowing one tape to be played while the other slot would be used to make a copy of the first tape. It should be argued there would be no reason to incorporate a second recording device, other than to make copies to trade or sell. There were numerous appeals which resulted in reversals of lower court decisions but Sony made a valid point and introduced considerable evidence that television programs that could be copied without objection from any copyright holder with special emphasis on sports, religious, and educational programming.”8

“The District Court concluded that noncommercial home use recording of material broadcast over the public airwaves was a fair use of copyrighted works and did not constitute copyright infringement. The court emphasized the material was broadcast free to the public at large to the activity conducted within a home. The court found this use served the public interest in increasing access to television programming, an interest that is consistent with the First Amendment policy of providing the fullest possible access to information through the public airwaves.”9

“The Court of Appeals reversed the District Court's judgment because it...

References: Lau, T., & Johnson, L. (2011). The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business. Irvington, NY:
Flat World Knowledge.
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