The Battle To Change The Betamax Precedent

from the welcome-to-shortsighted-business-practices-101 dept

Fortune Magazine is running a long piece looking at the well-known RIAA case against Grokster and Morpheus, pointing out that the industry doesn't just want to ban file sharing networks, it wants to overturn the Betamax ruling entirely. The Betamax ruling, of course, is what most of these cases rely on. Nearly 20 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that video tape machines were legal, so long as there were "substantial non-infringing uses" of the devices. Fortune, of course, is owned by AOL Time Warner, a member of the RIAA - though, that disclaimer is never mentioned in the article. If you read through it, the author clearly takes the side of the entertainment industry, accepting their views as fact throughout, even comparing file sharers to car thieves and the various P2P networks to drug dealers. He also tosses aside the argument made by many that if you look at the Betamax precedent, after that case was decided, it was videotapes that saved the movie industry. The reporter insists that wasn't true, and that some other compulsory licensing scheme would have been developed, and the industry would have been saved anyway. That's arguing a different point, of course. The industry argued against the Betamax claiming that if it were allowed, the industry would die overnight. That didn't happen. In fact, the opposite happened. Now the industry is making the same claims about file sharing. The historical perspective of the two cases makes this article an interesting read, but the bias in something that is supposed to be a news article, and not an opinion piece, (while lacking the ownership disclaimer) is unfortunate. The author of the article, Roger Parloff, also has a history of writing pro-DMCA articles (check Google). I have no problem with opinion pieces, where people can argue on the basis of those opinions. I have a lot more trouble with something being presented as fact, which is clearly opinion, instead.

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  1. identicon
    Tony Lawrence, 13 Oct 2003 @ 9:22am

    I shouldn't have zero interest

    I was just thinking "I have no interest in this" because I don't download music or even buy music cd's, but you know, that's short-sighted: there are larger issues here, and that I am uninterested in the particular expression of the problem is not what's really important.

    I wonder if that's part of the problem. Music people, like many sports fans, assume that everyone has the same interest, though perhaps to a lesser degree. In fact, there are many of us with very little or no interest at all in either,
    and perhaps that causes us to sometimes ignore things we shouldn't be ignoring. Maybe people who are close to this need to spend more time pointing out the larger issues?

    Now how to write to my congress-folk explaining that I'm concerned about this even though I don't care one bit about it.. :-)

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