Chapter 3Copyright and Piracy

Introduction

To those who tell you voting doesn’t matter, that one vote can’t change anything, you tell them about Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios,1 commonly known as the Betamax case. Back in 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court had to decide if commercially sold videotape recorders violated copyright law. By a 5-4 vote, the court ruled that these machines, which consumers used to copy movies and TV shows off their television sets, did not run foul of copyright.

One can argue that this one-vote decision dramatically changed America. Had that one vote gone the other way, modern devices that can download and copy media, such as DVRs and iPods, might still be only figments of some tech geek’s imagination. ...

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