1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Cablevision gets its way

Via Miri Frankel (Beanstalk) comes this link to Cable News Network v CSC Holdings Inc., 08-448, where the Supreme Court refused to block a new digital video recording (DVR) system that could make it even easier for viewers to bypass commercials. The system in question is Cablevision Systems' remote-storage DVR system. The film industry objected that this system would infringe US copyright laws.

The idea behind the technology is simple. Using remote storage, TV shows are kept on the cable operator's servers rather than in a machine inside the customer's home. This distinction is important, the article explains, because a remote system essentially transforms every domestic digital set-top box into a DVR, allowing customers to sign up instantly, without the need to pick up a DVR from the nearest cable office or wait for a technician to visit. The studios, TV networks and cable TV channels maintained that this service closely resembled video-on-demand, for which they have been able to negotiate licensing fees with cable providers.

In commercial terms, remote-storage DVR saves cable operators money because they don't have to invest and deploy digital set-top boxes with hard drives anymore; nor are there ever broken machines inside homes which require repair. Cable operators must however compete for bandwidth capacity, as shows will be transmitted to each DVR viewer from their central servers, instead of individual DVRs already in the home.

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