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University of California, Hastings College of the Law




The staple article of commerce doctrine must strike a balance between a copyright holder's legitimate demand for effective-not merely symbolic-protection of the statutory monopoly, and the rights of others freely to engage in substantially unrelated areas of commerce.

In Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, the Supreme Court created the copyright version of the so-called "staple article of commerce doctrine."'2 Its stated objective was to strike a balance between the incentive objectives of copyright3 and the interests of the public in access to new technology.4 As defined by the Court, the doctrine prevents copyright holders from interfering with the sale of technologies that may be used to infringe, but that also have "substantial non-infringing uses."'5

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