Cable Companies Suffer Setback in DVR Case

The New York Bar Journal reports today that Judge Denny Chin of the federal Southern District of New York has ruled that the DVR service provided by Cablevision infringes the copyright rights of entertainment producers whose content is copied by and stored for consumer use by Cablevision’s system. Judge Chin found that Cablevision’s system differed from standard DVR players because with a standard DVR player, it is the ultimate consumer that copies and stores the programs for later use. In Cablevision’s system, it is the cable company’s system that does the copying and storage. As such, Judge Chin found, it is Cablevision that is doing the copying, not the consumer, thereby taking the system outside the protections afforded by the Supreme Court’s decision in the Sony Corp. v. Universal Studios case. This decision is no doubt a setback not only for Cablevision, but for other cable television providers who have eithe rintroduced or who planned to introduce such systems, such as Comcast, as well. The cable providers will now have to either try and find a technological workaround, or hope that Judge Chin’s ruling is either reversed or proves to be an anomaly.

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