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
2 February 2004 - Grokster-Morpheus P2P case back in court
19 August 2004 - P2P networks not liable for copyright infringement
8 October 2004 - P2P case to be tested in Supreme Court?
9 November 2004 - StreamCast asks Supreme Court to reject RIAA/MPAA requests
11 December 2004 - Supreme Court to reconsider the P2P case
22 January 2005 - Supreme Court to hear P2P case