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.