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Court blocks DVR plan by Cablevision

March 24, 2007|From Reuters

NEW YORK — Cablevision Systems Corp. has lost a legal battle against several Hollywood studios and television networks to introduce a network-based digital video recorder service to its subscribers.

The cable operator said late Thursday that it was considering an appeal against the ruling by U.S. District Judge Denny Chin in New York.

Cablevision was sued last May by several Hollywood studios and television networks, including those owned by Time Warner Inc., News Corp., CBS Corp. and Walt Disney Co., which charged that the planned service would violate U.S. copyright laws.

New York-based Cablevision had hoped a network-based DVR system, called Remote Storage DVR or RS-DVR, would have done away with the need for the installation of hundreds of thousands of digital set-top boxes in subscribers' homes.

This could have saved Cablevision significant administration and maintenance costs. It already has installed more than 500,000 set-top boxes in homes in its area.

Other cable operators had been vocal in their support for such a system.

But the studios and TV networks argued that because the proposed service would allow subscribers to store television programs on the cable operator's own computer servers, it would be breaking copyright agreements by effectively retransmitting the programs.

Chin agreed with the studios and networks in his ruling: "The RS-DVR is clearly a service, and I hold that in providing this service, it is Cablevision that does the copying."

Chin also dismissed a countersuit by Cablevision.

Cablevision had argued that DVR technology based on its network is as legal as digital video recorders in the living room, such as those produced by TiVo Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc.

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