By: Brian J. Meli
This is Part 2 of a two-part article appearing in the May/June edition of IP Litigator. You can read Part 1 here.
In a temporary departure from our usual Legalmatter format, last week’s post contemplated a purely fictional hypo.
Lawyers love hypotheticals, in part because they make fertile ground for debate (and in part because it’s much easier to win an argument when it’s bring-your-own-facts). I deemed this particular hypothetical worthy of some ink however because it raises some thought-provoking questions about how IP laws have shaped our society.
The hypo involved going back in time and changing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in one of the most historic IP cases of all time, Sony v. Universal City Studios, so that plaintiffs Universal Studios and the Walt Disney Company came out on top. Such an outcome would have made Sony’s fledgling Betamax videocassette recorder (and the VCR in general) illegal due to its ability to allow users to impermissibly infringe copyrighted broadcasts. This would have had a profound affect on the evolution of consumer technology and the Internet, and fundamentally changed the ways we live, work and play today.
Last week we contemplated the online world of a parallel universe in which just such a thing happened. This week we conclude by taking a look at the equivalent off-line world.
Here’s how it might look: