Recording TV shows and downloading

I have what I think is a legitimate question, and I hope it has a definitive answer.

My understanding is that it is OK legally for me to tape a TV show to view later, and even to share that tape with a friend or two who may have missed that episode that week. Is this legally any different from recording same said show electronically and sharing it? Or even downloading it from someone else who is sharing it? To clarify, I’m only talking about cable/broadcast TV shows here, not movies or anything like that.

I think you answered your own question. If you tape a show and give it to a friend, no big deal, really. If you upload it to a website, there are potentially thousands of people who could get it.

Recording television shows for your own viewing is perfectly legal.

Giving that tape to a friend I am not sure about. The point here being there is only the one tape moving about and you did not sell it. Again not sure though…usually you see things talking about this saying the tape is only legal for personal use.

Making a copy of that tape and giving it to a friend is definitely illegal.

Basically copying/selling the tape (or more specifically the show on the tape) is illegal no matter how you slice it.

In practice no one is going to catch you handing a single tape of some show to a friend and even if the company who owns the show found out you gave it to one friend I very much doubt they’d bother to do anything. That said they could if for some reason they wanted to. When you upload it in a digital form to the internet where thousands of people can get it the company starts to care a whole lot more and are more likely to have at you if they can.

The point here being there is only the one tape moving about and you did not sell it.

That may be the point as far as you are concerned, but that isn’t really the point at all. Fair use means YOUR fair use. You do not have the right to distribute copyrighted material. End of story.

I have a feeling downloaded TV episodes piss advertisers off the most. Shows I’ve seen courtesy of the internet always have the commercials cut out of them. Since advertising dollars make the TV world go round, the industry gets upset when it thinks it’s losing those dollars. So while it might be fair use, it’s causing damage to advertisers wallets ( :rolleyes: ) and they just can’t have that.