Subject: Re: open source definition
From: "Jonathan S. Shapiro" <>
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 10:40:26 -0400

> After much complaint, there were US laws passed to legalize taping TV
> shows for replay at home....

My recollection of that one (which may be as good as my recollection
on music performance, so take this with a grain of salt) was that this 
was a court decision.  The broadcasters filed suit against the VCR
manufacturers, claiming that they were accessories to copyright

The test of this sort of thing at the time was whether the device has
a substantial legitemate use -- which need not be its primary use.

The courts ruled that making a video for private use for purposes of
time shifting fell within the range of non-infringeing behavior, and
since this was a substantial use of VCRs, the manufacturers got off.

By the way, some of the recent bills in congress have been moving
toward changing the wording from "substantial use" to "primary use."
By that measure, it's generally believed that the VCR manufacturers
would have lost.

Subsequent to this court ruling, I believe that some sort of
compensatory tax was levied on video tapes similar to the way audio
tapes are handled.  The model with audio tapes is that it is assumed
that some amount of infringeing will occur, and that this tax is
somehow indirectly paid back to the artists.  I don't know how the
disbursement actually works, though.