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May 31, 2006

Cablevision Sued Over Planned Network DVR Service

Networked digital recorders are back in the news.  Most people who have one love them.  These are boxes that are part of a satellite or cable connection that record shows to a hard drive for later viewing.  They are great little devices, consumer friendly for time shifting but lousy for archiving.  The hard drive in these babies fill up over time and something has to go to get more programming. 

Enter Cablevision with an idea to replace these home devices with a central networked version of the technology available to subscribers.  Someone would record a show and play it back via the cable connection.  Sounds great in the abstract.  Content providers have a dimmer view of the idea and have filed lawsuits saying as much.  They claim that the retransmission of shows violate copyright.  Cartoon Network and CNN have filed suit against the practice in a federal court in Manhattan.

20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, the Walt Disney Company, CBS, ABC, and NBC have filed similar suits.  They say they were forced to this action because Cablevision refused to seek a license.  Cablevision says the suits are without merit, but as usual a judge will have to sort it all out.  That is, unless a settlement avoids the ultimate issue of what is legal about this practice and what is not.  And of course, any licensing fees required to settle the suit would be paid by the consumer, unless they decide to keep their home DVRs and not pay the fees.  That would be something.

The story is in the Washington Post, USA Today, Business Week, and the Houston Chronicle.

May 31, 2006 | Permalink

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