Thursday, January 19, 2006

I suppose it was inevitable

Ned Snow, writing in the Syracuse Law Review (unfortunately unavailable at the Law Review's site), argues that Grokster makes Tivo liable for inducing infringement, because commercial-skipping undercuts the economic basis for commercial-supported TV. I told my copyright law students that there's no such thing as a natural right to a business model, but Congress can always provide.

I disagree vigorously with much of what Snow says; what I found downright puzzling was his claim that "In Sony, the claim of contributory infringement against the VCR manufacturer stemmed solely from the fact that the manufacturer sold VCRs; the manufacturer did not encourage VCR users to reproduce copyrighted broadcasts." Take a look at this ad, if the absurdity of Snow's claim isn't plain on its face.

Full cite: Ned Snow, The Tivo Question: Does Skipping Commercials Violate Copyright Law?, 56 Syr. L. Rev. 27 (2005).


Anonymous said...

I looked at your Sony ad. Which particular copyrighted broadcasts is Sony inducing the user to reproduce? Compare your referenced Sony ad with TiVo's website, which lists specific copyrighted broadcasts that TiVo enables users to copy.

RT said...

The ad doesn't need to name specific shows; shows broadcast were essentially all copyrighted. I'm pretty sure the district court went into some detail on this. The product isn't advertised as a way to get the occasional public domain program, but rather as a way to watch whatever you want, including your favorite TV shows.