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Judge Cooper combines EFF and ReplayTV suits
By Jon Newton, p2pnet.net
(more articles from this author)
2002-08-20
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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, adding:

"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


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