Case Brief: Sony Corporation of America Et Al. v. Universal Studios, Inc., Et Al. 464 U.S. 417 (1984 Facts The case raises the question whether a company is liable for contributory copyright infringement in case the company manufactures technical devices which can be used to copy copyrighted content. Sony Corp. developed a video tape recording device known as Betamax. Walt Disney Company and Universal Studios understood that there could be a threat to their business and opted to file a suit against Sony Corp. for contributory copyright infringement and unfair completion under the Lamham Act. The case moved from the District Court, which ruled in favor of Sony to Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit, which ruled in favor of Universal City Studios and others and finally moved to US Supreme which ruled in favor of Sony.2. Legal ProvisionThe provisions relating to unfair competition of the Lamham Act were applicable to this case in addition to 17 U.S.C. § 101 (Copyright Act of 1976). The fair use doctrine for use of copyrighted content, the provisions for copyright infringement in addition to provisions 17 U.S.C. § 106, which grants the copyright owners several rights were applicable for giving a verdict in every issue that was raised in this suit.3. IssuesThe primary issue that was raised in his suit was whether Sony Corp. was liable for contributory copyright infringement by manufacturing the product named Betamax. The other issue was that whether Betamax itself was a product which could facilitate copyright infringement or it was a product whose purpose was to facilitate legitimate use by the copyright owners. This issue had to be determined in order to find answers to the first issue.4. DecisionThe case first moved to the Federal District Court, where Sony Corp. won the case against its plaintiffs. The plaintiffs Universal Studios and Walt Disney then appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where decision was passed in favor of the appellants Universal Studios and Walt Disney. Sony Corp. then finally decided to move the US Supreme Court for decision on the issue. The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Sony Corp. by a 5-4 majority. Thus Sony Corp. was allowed to manufacture Betamax and later a product named VHS in US without becoming liable for copyright infringement and without being liable to pay any damages.5. RuleThe case establishes general rule in favor of technological development and favors the right of the general public to make rightful owners of copyright to make copies through technical devices for their own personal use. The general rule established in this case was that by manufacturing a product which can be used to store copyrighted content or which increases the probability of copyright infringement to take place does not by itself result in copyright infringement.6. ReasonsThe court reasons its judgment by stating that just by making a product which can be used to copy some copyrighted content is not a violation of copyright. The right of purchasers of a copyrighted matter will be prejudiced in case the product is not allowed to be manufactured. This is because in that case their right to make free copies out the original copy which they purchased for their personal use will be harmed in addition to harm caused to their right to give copies to whoever they feel like, for private non-commercial use.7. Concurring and Dissenting OpinionsThe majority gave concurring opinions in favor that Betamax should be allowed to be manufactured while the Dissenting members of the court opined that allowing the product to be manufactured may give rise to copyright infringement, hence, it should not be allowed.8. Legal TermsSome of the most important legal terms, which were used in the case were, Vicarious liability and Contributory Copyright Infringement, which meant constructive liability for not causing something directly and constructive liability for copyright infringement.Works CitedSony Corporation of America Et Al. v. Universal City Studios, Inc., Et Al. 464 U.S. 417 (1984)SupremeJustia.com. Justia, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2012.
You may also like
The aspect of globalization was the core consideration with regard
Porter’s six forces analysis of the global paper industry would