Washington, June 27, 2005
- The Home Recording Rights Coalition today said it was encouraged that the Supreme Court’s opinion
in the Grokster case today preserved the Betamax doctrine with respect to both the introduction of new technologies and the legality of ordinary consumer practices. It expressed the hope that today’s decision will be interpreted in the lower courts as reaching only specific acts of marketing as were at issue in this case, rather than as going more generally to services and options offered interactively to consumers. HRRC Chairman Gary Shapiro said today.
"We are hopeful that today’s decision will be interpreted by the lower courts as limiting their inquiries to the very specific marketing conduct aimed at mass, infringing distribution of works, that the Court discusses at length, and will not generally imperil the marketing of interactive services and technologies that offer choices to consumers. It was extremely important that the Court affirmed the Betamax principle that technologies should not be banned from the U.S. marketplace based on their potential uses by consumers. In this respect, it is helpful that the court’s main opinion (p. 14) recognizes that even ’librarying’ of programs by consumers is not necessarily an infringement."
Shapiro noted that the Court’s formulation of an "inducement" doctrine does bear similarity to the very broad "inducement" legislation that was offered in the last Congress, and was very widely opposed by technology companies and consumer groups. "Too broad a doctrine of "inducement" can put virtually any offering of new products and services at risk," he said. "We hope that courts will adhere to the very high and specific burden of proof suggested today by the Court. Uncertainty is just what we do not need to keep U.S. competitiveness and innovation ahead of the rest of the world. Many dynamic economies will face no such uncertainties about developing and exploiting new technologies."
Shapiro said that it is now time for the Betamax doctrine to be codified in U.S. law. He said that H.R. 1201 (Boucher - Doolittle), a bill with bipartisan support, is already pending in the Congress and now should be moved forward toward enactment.
"H.R. 1201 is the right starting place to codify the Betamax," Shapiro said. "In the briefing of this case, even most of the entertainment interests said that they did not quarrel with this core principle, that U.S. technological development should not be artificially constrained by indirect copyright considerations. Today, the Court recognized this doctrine as a "safe harbor." H.R. 1201 is the appropriate, bipartisan vehicle to confirm this doctrine in U.S. law and to protect the introduction of new technologies."
For updates on the Betamax doctrine, copy protection issues, and related Congressional and FCC proceedings, please visit the HRRC website at www.HRRC.org.
The Home Recording Rights Coalition, founded in 1981, is a leading advocacy group for consumers’ rights to use home electronics products for private, non-commercial purposes. The members of HRRC include consumers, retailers, manufacturers and professional servicers of consumer electronics products. Further information on this and related issues can be found on the HRRC website, www.hrrc.org.