The PJ Tatler

Another view of the iPhone thing

From Likelihood of Confusion, the blog an an intellectual property lawyer named Ron Coleman:

[O]ne thing Apple doesn’t want any aggravation about is secondary liability — no, not for trademark, though you can read all about that here, of course — but for copyright.  The right to public performance is one of the central rights protected by copyright.  And iPhones are the most likely gadget in the world to be used to unlawfully record copyright-protected works on screens, stages and elsewhere.

And when you can’t sue the person who did the recording, or if that person is essentially judgment proof — who ya gonna sue?  The guy who made the widget (or the server, or the credit card company) that made the infringement possible.

Apple needs to be the next Betamax like a hole in the head.  Yes, the “Betamax” won the case in which Universal sued Sony for enabling copyright infringement, but ultimately VHS was preferred by the market.  Litigation did not kill the Betamax.  But while the iPhone is already a proven winner, that will make it an even juicier target for the frustrated owners of copyrights.  Moreover, Apple’s relationship with IP owners doesn’t need that sort of strain.  Think how nicely they’ve learned to play lately, after all.