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As the RS-DVR World Turns

Another party has chimed in on the debate centering on Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC)'s controversial Remote Storage-Digital Video Recorder (RS-DVR) but this one does not fall in the MSO's favor.

On Thursday, Progress & Freedom Foundation (PFF) filed comments (PDF) with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals asking the court to affirm an earlier ruling that found the RS-DVR breached programmer copyrights. (See Inside Cablevision's 'RS-DVR' , Cablevision to Try, Try Again, and Net DVR Still Appealing for Cablevision.)

In addition to directing infringement liability directly on Cablevision, the PFF argues that the lower court decision does not suppress technology, but "affirms the need for distributors and creators alike to come to the bargaining table in support of markets," according to PFF Senior Adjunct Fellow Solveig Singleton, who filed the comments.

The situation was just the opposite last month, when a group including the United States Telecom Association (USTelecom) , the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) , and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a brief supporting the MSO's appeal. (See Unlikely Allies.)

An analysis by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. also issued a warning that a "strict interpretation" of the original ruling on the RS-DVR could imperil the legality of all set-top-based DVRs supplied by service operators. (See Outlawing the DVR? )

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 3:05:21 PM
re: As the RS-DVR World Turns My former colleagues will also slap me silly if I don't get their company name right and spell their product correctly: it's One Touch Intelligence, and they run a service called One Trak.
Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 3:05:21 PM
re: As the RS-DVR World Turns Functionally, there are many similarities, but Cablevision's technical approach to cracking this nut is fairly interesting...and different: http://www.lightreading.com/do...

I expect the EchoStars and DirecTVs of the world are also keeping a close eye on the case and its potential fallout, since they are going to leverage home-side DVRs to the hilt for their version of "VOD." Some former colleagues of mine at at One Track Intelligence came across this tidbit about EchoStar, which is apparently going to activate USB ports on some models of DVRs later this summer so users can expand storage capacity using external hard drives. Here's that story:

http://www.bigpicturebigsound....

msilbey 12/5/2012 | 3:05:21 PM
re: As the RS-DVR World Turns This is the problem in a nutshell:
"a 'strict interpretation' of the original ruling on the RS-DVR could imperil the legality of all set-top-based DVRs supplied by service operators"

There's very little difference between network DVR service and a set-top DVR, particularly now that external hard drives are more and more common. More on the subject here: http://connectedhome2go.com/20....
msilbey 12/5/2012 | 3:05:18 PM
re: As the RS-DVR World Turns I'm a big fan of One Trak, but I must humbly refuse to support any silly slapping.

In all seriousness, yes, Cablevision's technical solution is very different, but as you say, functionally it's much the same. Meanwhile Time Warner has taken a middle of the road approach with its Start Over solution. It's interesting to me how well Time Warner has managed to avoid legal liability by handicapping what is essentially network DVR technology.
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