Federal Judge: Cablevision's "networked DVR" Illegal

A year ago, Cablevision envisioned the idea of a remote-storage DVR which would store programming on servers at the cable company rather than on set-top boxes. Cablevision records everything ever aired, then makes available to subscribers on demand. The main difference between RS-DVR and current solutions is the location of the hard drive. US District Court Judge Denny Chin didn't see it that way. He issued a permanent injunction against the deployment of the RS-DVR noting that "the RS-DVR is clearly a service. And I hold that, in providing this service, it is Cablevision that does the copying."

Television networks accused Cablevision of rebroadcasting their content. "Cablevision is actually copying, storing and retransmitting it. A commercial entity can't establish a for-profit, on-demand service without authorization from copyright owners whose content is used on that service," said an MPAA spokesperson when the lawsuit was filed. DVR usage has been shown to increase interest in watching TV, something the networks would want given the number of other entertainment forms competing for the attention of would-be viewers. On the other hand, broadcasters don't like the consumer having the ability to skip advertisements.

If it weren't for the legal problems, the idea appears to be a win-win situation. Cablevision gets to offer a DVR without the expense of deploying set-top boxes to its subscribers and in turn, consumers pay less. For less than the cable company's $9.99 per month DVR rental fee, users would be given 80GB of space on a Cablevision server on which they could remotely record shows to be watched at their convenience. In a statement, a Cablevision spokesperson said that the company was undecided on whether to appeal the judge's decision but was disappointed in it and believed that "remote-storage DVRs are consistent with copyright law and offer compelling benefits for consumers."

News source: Ars Technica

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23 Comments

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"Cablevision gets to offer a DVR without the expense of deploying set-top boxes to its subscribers and in turn, consumers pay less."

Seriously...cmon...this will be just like AT&T DSL for 12.99 for the first year

Guys, its broadcasting. You're saying its only sending to 1 house hold so its not broadcasting but it is.

The fact is that if 2 households record the same show, cablevisions system would only record the show once and store it once. Then display it to both households when they chose to view it. So it is rebroadcasting.

They want to save space and not re-record the same shows for different people. They really just need one copy of a show and transmit that to all the people who want to see it.


They do need licenses for it though and that's where cablevision falls short. It doesn't have the licenses to rebroadcast.

I find it baffling because isn't the cable company just acting as your agent in doing the recording?

I wonder... if you're 92 years old and ask your care-giver to record something for you, who is responsible for the recording?

I find it baffling because isn't the cable company just acting as your agent in doing the recording?

They were charging for the service, so they were making a profit providing copyrighted material. They were breaking the law.

The FCC law clearly state no rebroadcasting even on-demand service is some what illegal if wasn't for the fact that is free service.
The problem I see with the RS-DVR is it going eat up about 1/2x more bandwith on cable network not that the idea that Cablevision come with is bad idea it rally a good idea in min way mainly becuase the subscribers don't have worry harddrive failuer and take time to return the DVR system back to cable company for new DVR system becuase of harddrive failuer so in a way this a benefits for the subscribers.
I agree with the Judge decision.

They aren't rebroadcasting, they are storign "your" data and sending "you" your data when you want it.
broadcastign would imply that they would be sendign it to multiple people, they aren't. they where just storing yoru data and sending it to you on request.

HawkMan said,
They aren't rebroadcasting, they are storign "your" data and sending "you" your data when you want it.
broadcastign would imply that they would be sendign it to multiple people, they aren't. they where just storing yoru data and sending it to you on request.

HawkMan it is called rebroadcasting becuase it physical done on their end, They are intercepting a signal, recording it at their location, storing it on their servers, and re-transmitting it to the home user is called rebroadcasting no matter how look at it which is a very clear cut violation of fair use after all Fair use rights cover limited individual uses, or limited education uses. Once there is a company involved pulling the strings, fair use no longer applies.
I don't care how convienant it is, record, store, and re-transmit your cable subscription for you is not fair use by any means what so ever, so end result is exactly the same.

which means that any company that lets people rent remote storage drives on the net potentially break the law. This ruling pretty much opens up suing providers of remote storage service because the customers are able to use them to store their media and rebroadcast it to themselves.

which means that any company that lets people rent remote storage drives on the net potentially break the law.

You're leaving out one tiny detail. In those situations the customer uploads the data to their storage drive. What is happening here is the company was the one doing the recording, then the customer downloads it. Subtle difference. Also those remote storage deals have (and are intended for) legitimate uses.

Cablevision records everything ever aired, then makes available to subscribers on demand.

That makes them a provider, and they were doing so without permission.

They are in trouble because they are charging to view content that they record but don't pay royalties for. Its different from people recording TV for personal use.

Either way they're rebroadcasting it which is illegal. No commercial entity can do that. It's allowed in homes because they're not commercial entities.

Actually they ar enot broadcasting it.

The term broadcasting, well it's really in the word, broad(wide) casting. Broadcastign means you are sending the content to multiple recipients, wich they aren't, they are sending it to you, one person.

It'd be like you renting a remote networked HDD at them, and then setting up your DVR to store to that HDD and stream from that HDD again.

I don't see what is so hard to understand about this. A company was recording copyrighted content and providing it to home users without permission. It doesn't matter if it was one user or one thousand. The law is the law.

The_Decryptor said,
From what i read it was $9.99 to rent the DVR.

Okay... the cable company gets $10 from you so that you can record and watch at your leisure... yet they still dont have to pay money to the networks so that you can watch it again and again...?

Ravensworth said,
They were charging for the service, so they were making a profit providing copyrighted material. They were breaking the law.

It seems to me that they were turning a profit either way and someone is recording and that someone will be watching it (not broadcasting it as it was earlier mentioned meaning to make available for a wider audience than one household). They were not breaking the law anymore than Joe Shmoe does everytime he records something on his TV (remember that copyright warning you always see... especially with... say... the NFL); they were only opting for a more efficient way to provide the same service as an in home DVR.

You need to pay to rent any DVR box from the cable company, even if you have the HDD, in fact if you have a local HDD, you probably have to pay more to rent it.

They were not breaking the law anymore than Joe Shmoe does everytime he records something on his TV

If Joe Shmoe had a company and was making money off the stuff he recorded then yes he would be breaking the law. Also it is not the same as renting a DVR from a company any more than buying a VCR from a store. The point is the company was storing the recorded material themselves, which made them a provider.