Cablevision Fires Back at Networks

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Arguing that its plans to roll out a network-based digital-video-recorder service this month don’t violate copyright laws, Cablevision Systems Corp. Wednesday filed a counterclaim against several major television networks and Hollywood studios that want to block it.

With the counterclaim -- filed against 20th Century Fox Film Corp., Universal City Studios, Paramount Pictures, Disney Enterprises, CBS Broadcasting, ABC and NBC Studios -- Cablevision wants a judgment that would declare that its Cablevision’s “RS-DVR” service “will not subject it to direct liability for infringing” copyrights.

The parties are scheduled to meet at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Wednesday afternoon to discuss procedural issues and establish a timetable for sharing discovery evidence before a trial. A trial date has not yet been set.

Cablevision’s counterclaim followed a suit filed May 24 against the MSO by the major networks and studios.

Turner Broadcasting System Inc.’s Cartoon Network and CNN also sued Cablevision in an attempt to block the network DVR, but Cablevision didn’t name the Turner networks in its counterclaim.

While the networks and studios argued in their complaint that Cablevision’s network DVR is actually a video-on-demand service masked as a DVR, Cablevision compared it to the Sony Betamax, VCRs and set-top-based DVRs in its counterclaim.

“The RS-DVR is no more a VOD service than traditional set-top-storage DVRs are VOD services. Plaintiffs’ new challenge to Cablevision’s product represents a misguided invocation of copyright law, which would stifle innovation and roll back the rights of consumers,” Cablevision told the court.

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