Legal Question in Intellectual Property in Florida

Can I get in trouble selling devices which defeat Copy protection of Video Tapes

There are devices called video stabilizers, commonly used to defeat copy guard on rental video tapes. Copy guard is a process that makes these tapes difficult to copy, by adding a signal that interferes with the electronics in VCRs. Stabilizer devices have been available for a long time, and I would like to sell them. It is my understanding that it is not illegal for a private consumer to make personal copies of intellectual property, including videos, for their own personal non commercial use. If that is true, I would like to market these devices in a very aggressive manner... like placing flyer advertisements on cars in parking lots where video rental stores are present. Before I do something like this, I think it important I know exactly what the law states, because legal or not, these video stores will certainlly harrass me if they can. Do I have anything to fear?

Asked on 4/26/00, 4:29 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Theresa Peeler Law Office of T. M. Peeler

Re: Can I get in trouble selling devices which defeat Copy protection of Video T

By selling this device you are exposing yourself to the threat of vicarious copyright infringement. Although you, yourself are not infringing upon the copyright owner's rights, by supplying a device which circumvents the process used to protect the tape from being copied, you are enabling someone else to infringe. You would most likely be included in any legal action taken by the copyright owner against infringers.

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Answered on 6/23/00, 5:52 pm

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