March 23, 2007

A Replay of the MP3.com Fight [11:17 am]

To wit — can a third party store copies of something that they don’t own, at the behest of those who have paid for the right to use that something, and replay it for them later? Cablevision loses suit on network DVRs - pdf

A federal judge has ruled against Cablevision Systems Corp.’s experiment with network digital video recorders, siding with Hollywood studios who said the devices would have violated copyright law.

The case has been closely followed in the cable industry since Cablevision, a New York-area company with about 3 million subscribers, had been the first to try to put the service into use, despite opposition from the studios.

Unlike a standard set-top digital video recorder with a built-in hard drive, which allows TV viewers to store and play back shows when they like and also to skip through commercials, a network DVR would allow any customer with a digital set-top box to record and play back shows in the same way, with the programs being stored in remote computer servers maintained by Cablevision.

Several studios and cable networks sued Cablevision, saying the company didn’t get their permission to rebroadcast the programs.

Cablevision argued that because the control of the recording and playback was in the hands of the consumer, and not Cablevision, the devices were compliant with copyright law.

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