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Supreme Court: Cablevision Remote DVR is OK

Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on June 29, 2009

The ability of consumers to decide where, when, and how they want to watch video content took a small step forward today when the Supreme Court declined to review a Court of Appeals ruling upholding Cablevision’s right to record TV shows for customers on remote servers.

In the Betamax case of quarter-century ago, the Supreme Court upheld the fair-use right of consumers to tape TV shows for their own viewing at the time and place of their choice and the right was later extended to digital recording. But when cable operator Cablevision in 2006 announced plans for a system that would let customers record programming on on remote servers rather than on digital recorders in their homes, TV networks and studios charged this was a copyright violation not covered by the exemptions carved out in the earlier cases.

The studios won an injunction against Cablevision in U.S. district court, but the decision was overturned by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals last year. The Supreme Court effectively upheld the appeals court by refusing to hear the case. As is customary, the denial of certiorari was issued without comment by the justices. The Obama Administration had filed a brief urging the high court not to take the case.

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Reader Comments


June 30, 2009 02:31 AM

Amazing that the Betamax ruling still holds weight in this day and age of the DMCA's work around, to make it illegal to break copyright protections. I suppose the TV networks and studios will now push harder to incorporate broadcast flags into the DMCA.

Geo from Jefferson

July 1, 2009 08:17 PM

Maybe the above commentator is right that the TV networks and studios will now push harder to incorporate broadcast flags into DMCA. But maybe they will also require their customers to do 50 pushups before looking at their movies. The other option along those lines might be to require users to drive three miles, pay 50 cents to a random individual, then watch their desired movie.

Actually there are infinite variations on the theme of inconveniencing customers in order to make more money. Luckily, the market rewards those who make customer's lives more convenient!

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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