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Homework answers / question archive / 1) The Red Lion decision seems to rest entirely on the notion of spectrum scarcity

1) The Red Lion decision seems to rest entirely on the notion of spectrum scarcity


1) The Red Lion decision seems to rest entirely on the notion of spectrum scarcity. Specifically, what technological advances have been employed over the last two decades to call into question the continued validity of the scarcity rationale? Do you think these advances are legally sufficient to warrant a reconsideration of the Red Lion principle?

2) Software developers have recently marketed a number of programs, such as MovieMask and ClearPlay, intended largely to sanitize movies by screening out or altering foul language and violent or sexual scenes. And in 2003, some video stores were renting altered, sanitized tapes of Hollywood hits. Similar technology can be used for a contrary purpose, too, to spice up films by adding rough language and more skin. Is this a blatant form of copyright infringement, or the rightful privilege of a DVD owner? Does it matter whether the copy of the film is substantively altered or merely muted in places?

3) Would it qualify as fair use to use an exact replica of cartoon character Bart Simpson in the masthead of a college newspaper? What if the Bart sketch were used in a political cartoon? Would it make a difference if Bart were being criticized in the political cartoon? Could an altered sketch of Bart— a parody—be used in the paper? In the masthead?

4) If copyright law does not protect ideas, what’s to stop a magazine, publishing company, or film studio from stealing the ideas in any materials you send to them? Should ethics, professionalism, and reputation be the only bars to stealing ideas, or should the law afford some special protection to ideas that are voluntarily submitted to others? What legal theories might be used to afford such protection? How about contract law?

5) Following the Kinko’s decision, some educators argued that Congress should enact a broader fair use exemption for education-oriented copying. Do you agree, or might a relaxation of copyright protections have counterproductive results? When music is played for the benefit of customers, a copyright fee is usually owed to the owner of the composition. Should a similar fee be owed to authors or publishers when books are lent by a library?

6) Based on this chapter’s discussion of music copyrights, do you think it would be a copyright violation to purchase a popular CD at a record store and then play it at a dorm party (without consent of the copyright owner and without an ASCAP or BMI license)? What if students are charged a fee to cover refreshments and entertainment at the party? Could you play the CD at a party if it were held at a cocktail lounge? Could you legally play the CD for an aerobics class you teach? 

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