This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Supreme Court's now famous Betamax decision. On January 17, 1984, the Court ruled that Sony's Betamax VCR was perfectly legal.

The majority opinion, written by Justice John Paul Stevens, said that although you could, in theory, use the device to record copyrighted television shows and movies and then sell them for profit, most consumers merely used their VCRs for "time-shifting," recording their favorite shows for viewing at a later time. Americans, the court decided, should be allowed this sort of "fair use."

Yet, as we celebrate this anniversary, we don't enjoy the same freedoms with television shows and movies purchased on DVD. It's illegal to make copies of any DVD.even if you're just making backup copies for your own personal use. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a law passed in 1998, prohibits anyone from circumventing "copyright protection systems" used by digital media, and today, all DVDs are equipped with such protection.

http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1594064,00.asp


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