I N T E R O F F I C E M E M O R A N D U M
Date: 27-Jan-1992 09:06pm GMT
From: Joseph C. Ebert
Dept: Education Comm. Center
Tel No: X4757
TO: Remote RSCS/NJE Network User ( _JNET%SCREEN-L@UA1VM )
Subject: RE: VCR's & Copyright
From my extensive interpretation of the US copyright laws, there is no real
ability to regulate what people do in their homes with their VCR's. That is to
say that the Federal Bureau of Investigation does not intend to spend its time
policing the 10/45 day rule vis-a-vis "fair use" and private use. For "fair
use", programs recorded must be used within the first ten days, but only once in
their entirety. After ten days they may be shown again on a review basis, or
used as research, as long as they aren't shown in their entirety. At the end of
45 days, the recordings must be erased.
Given the practical impossibility of policing home use, the way the broadcast
and recording industry have approached the sticky wicket of home recording has
been to, quite simply, get a piece of the action. The recording industry has
been trying to get taxes and fees added on to the price of blank recording tape.
That way, instead of wasting time chasing Mrs. McGillicutty, (who's been known
to chase "revenooers" off her property with a pint of gin and an old, edgy Smith
and Wesson), they've just taken a few extra cents on a blank video tape and
invested into real, quality programming, like Milli Vanilli.
Seriously, the American copyright laws aren't really intended to police
individual VCR recording of programs off the air for personal use. There is
enough lattitude in the language, however, so that they can be interpreted to do
so when the mood strikes the proper authorities.
In fact, (with tongue in cheek) a man in Duluth (sorry, Duluth...) was busted
recently for having taped every program ever aired by Geraldo Rivera. He was
sent to a local psychiatrist to undergo clinical counseling...and in a move
keeping with the spirit of the copyright laws, agent Maggie D. Gausser stated
that "there were some programs that were meant to be erased."