Sunday, February 18, 2007

VCRs and Guns

I'm reading the book "Free Culture" by Lawrence Lessig at the moment and just read a brilliant example about the problem with copyright laws; I thought I'd share!
In case you can't see it clearly, the caption reads "On which item have the courts ruled that manufacturers and retailers be held responsible for having supplied the equipment?".

The story is that Universal Studios (I think) went to the courts protesting that Sony was responsible for damages caused by the record feature on their new VCRs because, amongst all the legal uses, it enabled people to illegally copy content owned by Universal. Guns, on the other hand, kill people and yet their manufacturers' and retailers' aren't, or have never been, held responsible for murders involving guns.

That ruling was overturned but it's a pretty funny example of the complete lack of common sense surrounding "creative property" law. I'm not sure what the British situation is on all of this as most of the material I've been reading is by American authors but I plan to find out soon...

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