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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