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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Studios sue Cablevision over new kind of `DVR'

A gang of studios and media companies including Paramount, Disney, Fox, and Universal is suing Cablevision over a new service called RS-DVR. The acronym stands for "remote access digital video recorder."

From Cablevision's perspective, RS-DVR is cheaper than installing a TiVo-style set-top box in a subscriber's home. Instead, anyone with a digital cable box can request that certain shows be recorded on a server that sits in a Cablevision facility -- they'll essentially run your TiVo for you.

Cablevision only began testing the service in March. According to the Red Herring:

    Cablevision, the sixth-largest U.S. cable operator, said it does not anticipate any copyright complications because the only difference between customers recording on DVR boxes versus RS-DVR is the location of the hard drive on which the recording is made.

    “We are not recording shows and making them available as video on-demand content,” said Jim Maiella, a Cablevision spokesperson. “We are merely replicating the existing DVR functionality. The customer is making the recordings. We are just storing them.”

The studios don't agree. They think RS-DVR resembles a video-on-demand service. From the Multichannel News piece:

    “Cablevision’s proposed service is an unauthorized video-on-demand service that would undermine the video-on-demand, download, mobile-device and other novel and traditional services that plaintiffs and other copyright owners have developed and are actively licensing into the marketplace,” the [plaintiffs assert in the lawsuit].

    Several of the plaintiffs, including NBC and Fox, have cut deals to sell programming via Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes store. Others, including ABC and CBS, have plans to distribute programming via their own Web sites.


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