Supremes Consider Cablevision's RS-DVR
A Reuters report indicates that the DoJ probably won't file the requested brief for several months.
Last August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed an earlier ruling, thereby giving Cablevision the green light to deploy its "Remote Storage-DVR" (RS-DVR), a network-based video recording system that lets subscribers record programs on servers and play them back using any digital set-top. (See Court Resurrects Cablevision's Network DVR .) The reversal held that Cablevision's approach does not directly infringe copyright rules and should therefore be granted the same protections already governing standalone DVRs and VHS machines.
That reversal got challenged in November, when The Copyright Alliance, a trade group representing dozens of content owners, filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court. (See Cablevision Plan Faces Fresh Court Hearing .)
Despite the specter of a possible battle at the Supreme Court, Cablevision has been steadfast in its position that the RS-DVR is on solid legal ground, indicating late last year that it would start deploying the service by "early" 2009. (See RS-DVR Debut: 'Early Next Year' .)
Cablevision has said the RS-DVR would cost the MSO about $100 less per customer compared with giving every subscriber a set-top box with a hard drive. In fact, the RS-DVR approach has the potential to add DVR capabilities to every authorized digital set-top connected to Cablevision's network.
The MSO, which introduced the RS-DVR concept in March 2006, already has the service up and running on the Cablevision campus.
It's still not known whether the Supreme Court's request to the DoJ will have any affect on the timeline of the RS-DVR's commercial introduction. Cablevision has declined to comment on the matter.
In the meantime, Cablevision and its legal detractors won't be the only ones keeping close tabs on how this is settled. Several vendors, including BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND) and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), will also be watching closely. Cablevision identified the pair as suppliers of key components that make up the technical underpinnings of the RS-DVR system. (See Inside Cablevision's 'RS-DVR' .)
Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), meanwhile, has expressed interest in the RS-DVR if the legality of the concept holds up. (See Time Warner Cable Eyeing Network DVR Case .)
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News