Public Groups Back Cablevision in Network-DVR Fight

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Several public-interest groups are backing Cablevision Systems in its fight to legalize network digital-video recorders.

Cablevision -- which hoped to cut costs and widely deploy DVR service by delivering programming to set-tops in subscriber homes by relying on shows stored on computers stored in neighborhoods -- was ordered to halt its plans after losing a lawsuit in March. The cable operator, which filed an appeal in June, is fighting plaintiffs 20th Century Fox Film, Universal City Studios, Paramount Pictures, Disney Enterprises, ABC, CBS, NBC and Cartoon Network.

In briefings filed recently at the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New York, Public Knowledge and 10 other industry and public-interest groups backed Cablevision in its bid to overturn the March decision from a U.S. District Court, which ruled that Cablevision’s network-DVR plans would violate copyright law.

“Consumers would clearly be the losers if the law makes an illogical distinction between being able to record shows through a set-top box or through a cable-modem network,” Public Knowledge president Gigi Sohn said.

Joining Public Knowledge in the amicus briefs filed -- also known as “friend of the court” briefs -- were the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, NetCoalition, the Broadband Service Providers Association, USTelecom, the American Library Association, the American Association of Law Libraries, the Association of Research Libraries, the Medical Library Association and the Special Libraries Association.

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