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In the recent and much publicized Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Sony Corp. of America (Betamax) case, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that persons who make videotapes of copyrighted television programs in the privacy of their homes should be considered to be copyright infringers. Basic to the court's reasoning was a misunderstanding of the "fair use" doctrine. Called "the most troublesome [doctrine] in the whole law of copyright," "fair use" renders noninfringing certain uses of copyrighted material that might technically violate the statute, but which do not violate the statute's basic purposes.



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