How Mister Rogers Saved the VCR

In 1984, a landmark case laid down a controversial law regarding technology and copyright infringement. Here’s a look back at the “Betamax Case,” including the role Mister Rogers played in the Supreme Court’s decision.

Mr Rogers

For many years in the pre-DVD, pre-streaming era, the Betamax, Sony’s prototype videotape player-recorder, was a punch line. A piece of technology that was quickly superseded by the VCR VHS, it limped along in the shadows for two decades. And yet, it was the Betamax that gave name to a court case that has played a pivotal role in both technological progress and copyright law over the last thirty years.

Like many other cool electronic products, the Betamax came from Japan. In late 1975, it was introduced to the U.S. by Sony, who touted its ability to “time-shift” television programming. In an era when most viewers still had to get up off the couch to change channels manually, this innovation was as futuristic as it sounded. Record a TV show right off the air? Are you kidding?

If the public was wowed by the idea, the major entertainment corporations were not. Universal Studios and Walt Disney Productions filed a lawsuit in 1976 to halt the sale of the Betamax, claiming that film and TV producers would lose millions of dollars from unauthorized duplication and distribution of their copyrighted content.

Mental Floss | Read the Full Article

Revisiting the Case of the Wedding Photographer Threatened with a $300,000 Lawsuit

What happened to the case where an angry client sued the wedding photographer for $300,000? Robert Schenk takes a look at the case.


A couple years ago, I read a story about a Washington wedding photographer that was threatened with a $300,000 lawsuit by an ex-client. The story then seemed to drop out of sight. Sometime thereafter, I decided to put on my investigative reporter mustache and do some sleuthing. Was the threat real? Did a lawsuit actually get filed? If so, what was the result?

The Contract and the Aftermath

Karen Poon and her Dude hired Dream Production Studio to photograph their Vegas wedding in the Fall of 2011. Nelson Tang is the principal of Dream Production Studio, located in King County, WA, and operates his business as a sole proprietorship.

The parties agreed on a price of $3,800.00 for professional photography services covering the ceremony, reception, and some unspecified “pre-wedding” events. Guess what? There was no written contract. Needle skip! Tang needs to read this. But, let’s not hammer Tang too hard. He’s going to end up paying for it later on.

The wedding came and went. Sometime later, Tang delivered the images to the newlyweds. Not several hundred edited images that are typical for wedding photography agreements, but ALL OF THE RAW IMAGES. The good. The bad. The ‘I’m not a machine, they can’t all be winners.’

PetaPixel | Read the Full Article

Tiny Satellites That Photograph the Entire Planet, Every Day – TEDTalks

Satellite imaging has revolutionized our knowledge of the Earth, with detailed images of nearly every street corner readily available online. But Planet Labs’ Will Marshall says we can do better and go faster — by getting smaller. He introduces his tiny satellites — no bigger than 10 by 10 by 30 centimeters — that, when launched in a cluster, provide high-res images of the entire planet, updated daily.

TedTalk Earth

Via PetaPixel

Marion Cotillard on How to Cry at a Moment’s Notice

Jack Smart interviews Marion Cotillard about her process in developing the character for Deux jours, une nuit (Two Days, One Night)

Marion Cotillard

To play Sandra, a middle-class mother battling depression, Marion Cotillard used a plethora of tools in her acting arsenal. First, it helps to have experienced a degree of the same kind of despair herself. “I came very close once,” says the actor, before smiling modestly. “But I have arms. I’m a pretty good fighter.”

Cotillard’s performance in the Belgian film “Deux jours, une nuit” (“Two Days, One Night”) showcases that same fighting spirit, but with a submissive, delicate restraint rarely seen from the acclaimed actor. After taking time off from the local solar panel factory due to a nervous breakdown, Sandra learns company management has offered employees a bonus if they agree to let her go. With dogged encouragement from her husband, Sandra spends her weekend tracking down her co-workers, convincing them to forego the raise and trying not to let depression engulf her completely.

“I came close enough to understand what it is to lose the purpose of being here, the taste of everything,” says Cotillard. Personal experience was the first step toward unlocking what seemed to her a sorrowfully complex role. “I really needed to understand this depression, how it affected her family and the people she loved.” She acknowledges the enigmatic nature of the condition for those not enmeshed in it; there exists a social stigma against Sandra’s behavior that makes her depths difficult to convey. “We have a lot of judgments when it comes to depression,” she points out. “It’s kind of mysterious.”

Backstage | Read the Full Article

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