Monday, August 04, 2008

A Huge Win for Cablevision (and for consumers)

Earlier today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District reversed a previous ruling that Cablevision's network PVR service infringed the rights of content owners. In 2006, Cablevision announced its network PVR service, called RS-DVR, which was based on technology from Arroyo Video Solutions, a company that was subsequently acquired by Cisco. The big advantage of a centralized PVR system is that conventional set-top boxes can provide video recording capabilities; in-home PVRs, with their cost and complexity, aren't needed. Network PVRs are the standard in China, India and other countries where subscriber income precludes the cost of in-home PVRs.

Almost immediately after Cablevision's announcement, a flock of content companies, including CBS, Viacom, News Corp., Time Warner, Disney and NBC Universal, filed suit to stop deployment of RS-DVR. In the initial court case, the media companies prevailed and won an injunction that precluded Cablevision from offering RS-DVR. Today's decision by a three-judge panel overturned the lower court's ruling and lifted the injunction. These articles provide more details about the ruling itself.

This is not the last word in the case, of course. The media companies can request that the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District rehear the case. No matter how that turns out, the losing side can appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which can (but isn't obligated to) hear the appeal. However, we're a giant step closer to legal network PVR service in the United States, which will likely mean lower costs for consumers.
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