How Mr. Rogers Saved the VCR
In ruling that home time-shift recording of television programming for private use was not copyright infringement, the Supreme Court relied on testimony from television producers who did not object to such home recording. One of the most prominent witnesses on this issue was Fred Rogers.
The Supreme Court wrote:
"Second is the testimony of Fred Rogers, president of the corporation that produces and owns the copyright on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The program is carried by more public television stations than any other program. Its audience numbers over 3,000,000 families a day. He testified that he had absolutely no objection to home taping for noncommercial use and expressed the opinion that it is a real service to families to be able to record children’s programs and to show them at appropriate times. "
(Excerpt from Mr. Rogers’ trial testimony: ) "Some public stations, as well as commercial stations, program the ’Neighborhood’ at hours when some children cannot use it. . . . I have always felt that with the advent of all of this new technology that allows people to tape the ’Neighborhood’ off-the-air, and I’m speaking for the ’Neighborhood’ because that’s what I produce, that they then become much more active in the programming of their family’s television life. Very frankly, I am opposed to people being programmed by others. My whole approach in broadcasting has always been ’You are an important person just the way you are. You can make healthy decisions.’ Maybe I’m going on too long, but I just feel that anything that allows a person to be more active in the control of his or her life, in a healthy way, is important."