Supreme Court Allows RS-DVR Service, Rejects Hollywood Appeal

The Supreme Court decision opens the way for cable companies to offer remote storage digital video recording services such as Cablevision's RS-DVR. Film studios and major broadcast networks say RS-DVRs violate the copyright on their content.

The Supreme Court refused June 29 to hear an appeal of a lower court decision that permits Cablevision to offer remote digital video recording. The service allows consumers to record, store and playback recordings on computer servers maintained by Cablevision instead of DVRs owned by customers.
Film studios and major broadcast networks opposed Cablevision's plans and filed a lawsuit in 2006 claiming the RS-DVR (Remote Storage Digital Video Recorder) was a violation of their copyrighted content. A lower court ruled in favor of the Hollywood companies but the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York overturned the decision.
The Supreme Court rejected the case without comment. The ruling is expected to open the door for other cable services to offers RS-DVRs.
"From a common-sense standpoint, the court's decision was a slam-dunk," Consumer Electronics Association President and CEO Gary Shapiro said in a statement. "The court has already ruled that consumers have the right to time-shift television shows. Whether the bits reside in a box under your TV or a box in the cable field office is not relevant."
Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, added, "From a common-sense point of view, the lower court, and the U.S. solicitor general, were correct in their interpretation of the copyright law that a recording is a recording, whether done on a set-top box or at the cable head-end, as Cablevision's proposed service allows."
In urging the Supreme Court to reject the case and let the appeals court decision stand, the Department of Justice in May said the appeals court reasonably and narrowly resolved the issues presented by the case.