Judge Cooper combines EFF and ReplayTV suits
Music Industry News - as it happens
Source: MusicDish - August 19, 2002
US District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper has combined two lawsuits
brought by SONICblue, maker of ReplayTV systems which among other things let
users skip TV commercials, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF),
representing five ReplayTV owners who want a ruling to the effect that their
use of the device is legal under copyright law.
The suits were filed against an action started last year by the major TV
networks which are suing SONICBlue, claiming ReplayTV and DDV 2120
dual-deck VCR allow viewers to email TV programs and by-pass commercials.
The networks' copyright infringement lawsuit appears to pose a direct attack
on consumers' "long-established fair use rights to record free over the air
broadcasting for later viewing," Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)
president and CEO Gary Shapiro when the suit was first filed, continuing:
"The plaintiffs now appear to claim that commercial skipping, which
consumers have done through a variety of methods (including changing the
channel), violates their copyright. Consumers have always been able to fast
forward through commercials on current analog VCR's. For years, some VCRs
have had a 'commercial skip' function. Getting down to this level of
functionality seems to be a direct attack on the Supreme Court decision, in
the Betamax case, that staple articles of commerce that are capable of
'substantial non-infringing uses' may legally be distributed to consumers."
He also said a legitimate concern over Net re-transmission of content, "must
not be used as a Trojan Horse to roll back established recording and fair
use rights in the home; nor should it be assumed that consumers are
irresponsible in the use of material delivered into their homes."
"The Hollywood companies say the devices infringe on their copyrights by
letting users build up libraries of TV shows, send shows to other users via
the Internet and skip past commercials," said an August 19 Variety story,
"Judge Cooper gave little reason for the reversal of her initial ruling, but
said that the question of whether the plaintiff's use of ReplayTV's features
constitutes fair use will 'figure prominently in both' actions. The issue is
the same one that arose when the major film studios tried to stop consumers
from using their VCRs to record films."
Related News from Mi2N:
» Judge Grants Consumer Voice In ReplayTV Lawsuit
» Hollywood Tries To Skip Over Customers' Concerns