Supreme Court wants DOJ POV on RS-DVR

The case questioning the legality of cable TV firm Cablevision Systems's planned Remote Storage-DVR service (RS-DVR) has made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. But it could be months before new action happens, as the Supremes yesterday kicked the case over to the U.S. Department of Justice to seek a brief on the federal government's view on the matter before the high court conducts its own review.

Several entertainment companies had sought to block Cablevision's efforts to deploy what is essentially a network-based DVR because, they argued, the service broke copyright laws. They appealed to the Supreme Court after a circuit court of appeals ruled last summer that the Cablevision service-on hold since the case began, but reportedly scheduled for a return this year-was lawful.

The case has huge implications, because many service providers would like to offer some variation on a RS-DVR or N-DVR capability.

"It's a business decision," Terry Denson, Verizon Communications vice president of content and programming, told FierceIPTV at CES 2009 last week. "Of course, we could do a network-based DVR service, but it doesn't make sense to think about it now if the rights and legal pathways are not clear."

Denson said he believed that Cablevision drew the ire of the content industry because it did not sufficiently lobby the content industry for the so-called "expressed" grants to those rights.

Also at CES 2009, Microsoft announced a Mediaroom Anytime capability that behaves much like a N-DVR service. The company already has one customer in Asia for the capability, but it is believed U.S. carriers may not buy in until the Cablevision RS-DVR case concludes.

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