Cablevision Blasts Broadcasters For Tying RS-DVR To Aereo Litigation

Whitepaper Claims Broadcasters Are Asking Supreme Court ‘To Throw The Baby Out With the Bathwater’

Cablevision  Systems issued a whitepaper Thursday asserting its belief that Aereo’s broadband TV service violates copyright laws, but likewise argued that a broadcaster-led attack against Aereo is also “overreaching and damaging” because they also take aim at the legal underpinnings of Cablevision’s remote-storage DVR (RS-DVR)  and other cloud-based storage services.

The paper comes into play as ABC, Fox, CBS, NBC and other broadcasters have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a Second Circuit denial of an injunction against Aereo, which claims that its service, which does include a cloud DVR component, is not a public performance, but instead provides remote, private access to free over-the-air signals. In 2008, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling, handling Cablevision a big victory and finding that the MSO’s network-based DVR did not violate copyright laws. 

In releasing the paper, titled “Aereo and the Public Performance Right,” Cablevision said in a statement that it “strongly rejects anti-Aereo arguments made by these broadcasters – including ABC, CBS and Fox” as they “attempt to overturn the important principles of federal copyright law confirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in its 2008 Cablevision remote-storage DVR (RS-DVR) in their petition before the U.S. Supreme Court as both overreaching and damaging.”

Cablevision said that those arguments, if accepted, would cause “grave harm to consumers, cloud-based technology and future innovation,” claiming it would attack all cloud-based services, including Apple’s iCloud, Amazon Cloud Player, Google Play Music, and, of course, Cablevision’s own RS-DVR service.

“In short, the broadcasters are asking the Court to throw the baby out with the bathwater – a move that could cripple cloud-based innovation in the U.S,” the MSO added.

Cablevision has an ally of sorts in Charter Communications, which backed Cablevision’s stance on the RS-DVR matter.

“Without getting into the legal merits of the Aereo service itself, we fully support Cablevision's position regarding remote DVR and agree that allowing the broadcasters to use the Aereo case to overturn the remote DVR case would be inappropriate and unnecessary. The remote DVR precedent established in the 2nd Circuit should stand,” Charter said, in a statement.

Charter has not deployed an RS-DVR product and declined to comment on whether it has plans to develop one. Charter, however, is starting to pursue a services model that is more dependent on a cloud-based architecture. That strategy includes a cloud-based user interface that is initially being tested in Ft. Worth, Texas. Charter’s current president and CEO, Tom Rutledge, championed the RS-DVR concept as COO of Cablevision.

Today (December 12) is the deadline for Aereo to respond to the broadcasters’ petition.