Networks, Studios Sue Cablevision Over DVR Service

May 25, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Several television networks and studios filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Cablevision contending that the cable company’s network DVR service, which is slated to go live next month, violates their copyrights.

The plaintiffs are 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Company, ABC, CBS and NBC networks. They claim in the lawsuit filed in United States District Court in New York that the Cablevision service is actually an extension of video-on-demand and thus requires appropriate licenses with copyright holders.

They are requesting a court injunction to prevent Cablevision from launching the service.

The legal battle will be closely watched by the cable industry because industry experts widely expect that VOD will migrate over time to an everything-on-demand model, enabled by network DVR capability.

In the suit, the networks and studios describe the service as “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.”

Cablevision, however, likens the service to a DVR.

“The customer makes the copy and selects to record it and instead of being stored in a hard drive on a set-top box, it’s stored in our headend in a dedicated space,” said Cablevision spokesman Jim Maiella.

In a statement, Cablevision said, “This lawsuit is without merit, reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of Cablevision’s remote-storage DVR, and ignores the enormous benefit and well-established right of viewers to time-shift television programming.”