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Copyright Compliance
Copyright: Supreme Court Cases

SUPREME COURT CASES

<Supreme Court Cases were important because they began to define how the fair use factors worked. The problem was that universities were not part of the discussion.>

Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 US 417 - Supreme Court 1984

Facts: Sony made and sold “Betamax” recorders. Originally, Universal City sued Sony for copyright infringement because consumers used Betamax to record Universal’s copyrighted work.
Ruling: In favor of the defendants.
Conclusions of Law:
-“Commercial use” creates the presumption of unfair use.
-A challenge to non-commercial use requires a showing of a) actual harm or b) potential harm: if the practice became widespread, it would adversely affect the potential market for the copyrighted work.

Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises, 471 US 539 - Supreme Court 1985

Facts: In 1977, former President Ford contracted with the publisher Harper & Row to publish his memoirs. Harper & Row negotiated a deal with Time to publish excerpts of the memoirs. Nation Magazine illegally acquired and used a copy of these excerpts to publish the scoop. As a result, Time refused to pay Harper & Row. Harper & Row sued Nation for copyright infringement.
Ruling: In favor of the plaintiffs.
Conclusions of Law:
-“Amount and substantiality of the portion used”: Taking the “essential heart of the book” and copying verbatim worked against the defendant (Did not matter that it was only 13% of the Time article.)
- “Effect on the Market:” This factor is the single most important element of fair use (Later disputed by a number of lower courts).
Note:
1) for profit
2) Direct damages were easy to determine: Time refused to pay Harper $12,500. Potential market was also clear because no one else but time had access to the publication.

 

 

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