Cablevision to Appeal DVR Ruling

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Hoping to revive plans to pursue a network-based digital-video-recorder system, Cablevision Systems said it plans to appeal a decision last month from a New York federal district court that found that its RS-DVR would violate the copyrights of ABC, Fox and other studios and networks.

“We continue to believe strongly that remote-storage DVR is permissible under current copyright law and offers significant benefits to consumers, including lower costs and faster deployment of this popular technology to our digital-cable customers,” Cablevision chief operating officer Tom Rutledge said in a prepared statement regarding the appeal, which Cablevision said it will file Tuesday at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Cablevision first announced plans to test a network-based DVR system in March 2006. The cable distributor said its RS-DVR would operate like traditional DVR set-tops, allowing subscribers to store programs on servers located at remote servers.

But major studios and TV networks balked at the move and sued Cablevision in a bid to its block its network-DVR plans last May. Plaintiffs included 20th Century Fox Film, Universal City Studios, Paramount Pictures, Disney Enterprises, CBS, ABC, NBC Studios and Turner Broadcasting System’s Cartoon Network and CNN.

In his March 22 ruling, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said Cablevision’s network DVR would violate copyright laws.

“Indeed, the RS-DVR is not a stand-alone machine that sits on top of a television,” Chin wrote. “Rather, it is a complex system that involves an ongoing relationship between Cablevision and its customers, payment of monthly fees by the customers to Cablevision, ownership of the equipment remaining with Cablevision, the use of numerous computers and other equipment located in Cablevision's private facilities and the ongoing maintenance of the system by Cablevision personnel.”

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