AfterDawn: Glossary

Betamax Case

Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc.

Generally referred to as "The BetaMax Case," Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. was a court case that made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Their decision in that case set two major precedents. The first is that Time Shifting, or recording a broadcast program for later viewing, is fair use. The other, which is still hotly debated by some content owners, is that the manufacturer of a device which can be used for copyright infringement, but also has "substantial noninfringing uses" can't be held liable for copyright violations by those who use it.

The decision in the Betamax Case has been the focus of much debate with the rise of Peer to Peer (P2P) file sharing, and lawsuits against operators of file sharing networks or trackers for files on those networks. It's since been established that if the operator of a P2P network markets their service as being a good source for infringing material or otherwise encourages customers to infringe on others' copyrights they're not protected by the exemption for substantial noninfringing use.

In the News

1 October 2000 - Napster goes to court again

  • Tomorrow is yet another court date for Napster. It's time for appeals court hearings in case of Napster vs. RIAA.... (Read More)

2 February 2004 - Grokster-Morpheus P2P case back in court

  • One of the most important P2P cases returns to court on Tuesday. The lawyers for both the entertainment industry and the P2P operators Grokster and StreamCast Networks (Morpheus) will be making their case in the Court of Appeals in Pasadena, California.... (Read More)

19 August 2004 - P2P networks not liable for copyright infringement

  • A federal appeals court has ruled that file sharing companies are not liable for copyright infringements carried out using their software products.... (Read More)

8 October 2004 - P2P case to be tested in Supreme Court?

  • Hollywood movie studios and record companies have asked the United States Supreme Court to overturn an earlier ruling which found file sharing companies not liable for copyright infringements carried out by using their software.... (Read More)

9 November 2004 - StreamCast asks Supreme Court to reject RIAA/MPAA requests

  • StreamCast, which owns the Morpheus P2P Network has formally asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reject requests made by the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to revisit lower court decisions that confirm the legality of P2P networks.... (Read More)

11 December 2004 - Supreme Court to reconsider the P2P case

  • United States Supreme Court has agreed to review the decision by the Appeals Court of 9th Circuit which found P2P operators Grokster and Streamcast were not liable for the copyright infringements that take place in their P2P networks.... (Read More)

22 January 2005 - Supreme Court to hear P2P case

  • The United States Supreme Court said it will hear oral arguments in an ongoing dispute over the legality of filesharing.... (Read More)

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