Video services

Unlikely Allies

Support for the hotly contested Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) Remote Storage-Digital Video Recorder, or RS-DVR, has emerged from an unexpected source -- the telcos.

A group that includes the United States Telecom Association (USTelecom) , the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) , and the Electronic Frontier Foundation tag-teamed on an Amicus brief filed late last week with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York supporting Cablevision's appeal of a decision handed down in March that found the MSO's concept for the RS-DVR to violate programmer and studio copyrights.

Cablevision is appealing the case. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is expected to hear it the week of Aug. 6. (See Cablevision to Try, Try Again.)

The brief is urging the court to overturn the decision, arguing the ruling "would severely limit how consumers access and enjoy their programming on digital video recorders... provided through their subscription video service."

USTelecom President & CEO Walter B. McCormick Jr. sided with Cablevision's argument that putting storage on the network is more cost-effective than the traditional approach of putting hard drives in individual set-tops.

"Network-based services may prove to be both cheaper and technologically superior, providing better service at reduced costs to consumers. But these benefits that many consumers now take for granted could disappear if this District Court decision is not overturned or significantly revised," he said in a lengthy statement issued Monday.

The brief, filed Friday, June 8, also pointed out that the earlier decision could imperil standard, home-side DVRs, an observation already made by analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. (See Outlawing the DVR? )

And so the fight continues. But it appears Cablevision will be bringing more weapons to this phase of the battle.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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