The Sony Paradox

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Senator Orrin Hatch's introduction of the "Induce Act" in the summer of 2004 transformed the ongoing debate over the legality, morality, and economics of peer-to-peer file sharing into a debate over Sony v. Universal Studios, at least among the copyright cognoscenti. Fans of the Sony decision insist that the legal rule announced in the case made the world safe for innovation. The Sony standard, they tell us, is "the only thing that protects your right to own a VCR, tape recorder, CD-burner, DVD-burner, iPod, or TiVo. It's that important. Sony, they claim, has for twenty years shielded innovators from copyright infringement suits and enabled the rapid technological advances that permit us to enjoy an unparalleled wealth of media.