Hollywood Files Suit To Block Cablevision Network DVR

Several Hollywood studios and television networks have teamed up to kill the “network DVR.” I can’t say this surprises me — in fact, back in March I wondered if the lawyers would get involved. While the distinction between recording locally versus recording remotely may appear minor, in effect Cablevision would essentially be rebroadcasting content in an “on demand” fashion which requires additional licensing fees. While some might argue a studio/network victory would be a beachhead setting the precedent to kill all DVRs, I see this more as a line being drawn in the sand… which I can live with.

Business Week says: The network DVR proposed by Cablevision would allow viewers to choose which programs they want to record. But instead of recording on a hard drive in the home, the cable company would record the shows on a central computer, then allow viewers to watch them later. Studios say the law, under “fair use,” gives consumers the right to time shift. But it doesn’t give that right to companies that license the content only for simultaneous broadcast, meaning that to store the shows and offer them on demand for a fee, companies must obtain a separate license. “Such conduct would constitute willful copyright infringement,” the lawsuit states. The companies are asking the court to issue an injunction preventing Cablevision from launching the service.

The plaintiffs in the case are News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios, Viacom Corp.’s Paramount Pictures and The Walt Disney Co., along with broadcasters ABC, CBS Corp. and General Electric Co.’s NBC.

2 thoughts on “Hollywood Files Suit To Block Cablevision Network DVR”

  1. I guess what I don’t understand is why Hollywood doesn’t just refuse to license their cable streams to Cablevision in retaliation. They have a choice as to whether or not to do business with them and instead of sueing their partner they should be working on negotiations by playing hardball. The sames goes for the RIAA lawsuit against Sirius. It makes no sense, the studios will let subscription download services sell all you can eat downloads for $10 per month, but the royalties that Sirius already pays apparently aren’t enough to offer similar functionality on their players.

    The whole thing makes me wonder if Hollywood is really just trying to push the betamax ruling further by testing the waters of new services. To be honest, I’m surprised that they haven’t tried to go after TiVo and Slingbox already.

  2. I think the studios & networks have given up on fighting typical DVR services — they’re way too embedded in our culture and homes at this point. (Though, lawsuits did a pretty good job of accelerating ReplayTV’s demise.) If HBO’s CTO is to be believed, they and others are contemplating legal action against Sling Media.

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