The United States Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Hollywood and network television channels in the Cablevision remote storage DVR case, which ends the litigation and clears the air regarding Cablevision's service. For now, at least.
The product that Cablevision offers to its customers allows them to perform normal DVR functions, like recording shows and pausing live TV, without pruchasing or renting an actual hardware device.
Instead, the content is recorded on Cablevision's servers while the user controls the actions of the DVR across the network. The user makes all the decisions about what and when to record, but the actual recording occurs on Cablevision's hard drive instead of a hard drive inside a device in the subscriber's home. Movie studios and television stations argued that the service violated
their copyrights in the recorded material. Cablevision countered that
the service was nearly identical to typical hardware DVRs, it just
shifted the site of the storage.
A federal district court judge
initially sided with the plaintiffs, but a panel of the 2nd Circuit
overturned that decision and held that the copies on Cablevision's
servers, since they were only created upon the initiative of the
subscriber, fell within the typical fair use exception for home
The panel also found that a 1.2 second storage
buffer was of a "transitory duration" and did not amount to copyright
While the Court's decision today effectively ends
this particular case, don't expect the issue to go away. The parties
agreed to take many issues off the table in the case, such as fair use
and indirect liability, so expect to see litigation in the future
exploring those issues.
See Also: Cablevision remote DVR stays legal: Supremes won't hear case (Ars Technica) Supreme Court Serves Up Remote-Recording Victory (Wired: Threat Level) The Death of Television Draws Ever Nearer (Gawker)