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InMasaru Ibuka started an electronics shop in a department store building in Tokyo. The company built Japan's first tape recordercalled the Type-G. Another early name that was tried out for a while was "Tokyo Teletech" until Akio Morita discovered that there was an American company already using Teletech as a brand name. The move was not without opposition:

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June 7, Focus Features Ina landmark case laid down a controversial Sony corp regarding technology and copyright infringement. And yet, it was the Betamax that gave its name to a court case that has played a pivotal role in both technological progress and copyright law over the last plus years.

Like Sony corp other cool electronic products, the Betamax came from Japan. In lateit was introduced to the U. In an era when most viewers still had to get up off the couch to change channels manually, this innovation was as futuristic as it sounded.

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Record a TV show right off the air? If the public was wowed by the idea, the major entertainment corporations were not. Universal Studios and Walt Disney Productions filed a lawsuit in to halt the sale of the Betamax, claiming that film and TV producers would lose millions of dollars from unauthorized duplication and distribution of their copyrighted content.

When the case finally went to trial inthe U. District Court ruled in favor of Sony, stating that taping programs for entertainment or time-shifting was fair use, and did not infringe on copyright.

Further, there was no proof that the practice did any economic harm to the television or motion picture industry. But Universal, unhappy with the verdict, appealed inand the ruling was reversed. Keep in mind that up until the arrival of the Betamax, movie studios had received a cut of the box office or fee whenever one of their films was shown.

Now suddenly here was a rapidly expanding scenario that undermined that structure. By this point, nearly 50 percent of all homes in America had a VCR VHS replaced Betamax, mainly because its tapes had longer recording capability and sales of videocassettes were competing with theatrical box office.

It was a trial of extremes.

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Defending the VCR, he said: Very frankly, I am opposed to people being programmed by others. I just feel that anything that allows a person to be more active in the control of his or her life, in a healthy way, is important.

The first upheld the original decision—that recording a broadcast program for later viewing is fair use. Of course, despite the popularity of legal movie and TV streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu, file sharing continues.

Whether it can be, or should be, stopped is a subject for another day.Sony Corp. ADR stock price, stock quotes and financial overviews from MarketWatch.

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