Save Betamax

Congress is considering legislation called the INDUCE Act. It would, not to put too fine a point on it, outlaw many of the common devices found in your house. This might seem drastic, but the basic point is pretty clear. From

The Betamax VCR died more than 15 years ago, but the Supreme Court decision that made the Betamax and all other VCRs legal lived on. In Sony vs. Universal (known as the Betamax decision) the Court ruled that because VCRs have legitimate uses, the technology is legal—even if some people use it to copy movies. Of course, the movie industry was lucky it lost the case against VCRs, because home video soon became Hollywood’s largest source of revenue. And the freedom to use and develop new technology that was protected by the Betamax decision set the stage for the incredible growth in computer technology we’ve seen in the last few decades.

The INDUCE Act would overturn the precedent set in Sony v Universal, creating huge financial liabilities for any company that makes technology that might be used to copy copyrighted material. Goodbye, TiVo. Goodbye, iPod. Goodbye, home DVD burner. Etc. The SaveBetamax folks are asking people to sign up to call their Congressional reps at a preset time; by scheduling calls, they hope to produce a steady flow of calls during the day. I signed up, and (IMNSHO) you should too. Don’t take my word for it, though; even Mr. Rogers (God rest his soul) agreed with the Betamax decision.

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