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Cablevision Sues Hollywood For 'Betamax-Like' Rights

Cablevision says its digital video recording system is similar to Betamax and therefore doesn't violate copyright and fair-use laws.
Cablevision says its remote storage digital video recording system is similar to Betamax, VCRs, and set top DVRs and therefore does not violate copyright and fair use laws.

Cablevision argued its right to provide customers with remote storage last week in a response to a lawsuit by Hollywood film companies. Cablevision filed a countersuit, claiming the difference between its remote storage and a set top DVR is the location of the storage.

"Significantly, the only programs stored in a particular customer's dedicated memory will continue to be programs recorded by that customer," the response stated. "The physical location of computer memory, moreover, will not affect how customers operate the DVR device; the customer still initiates all copying and playback of recorded programming through his or her remote control, just as he or she does with the traditional set-top storage DVR."

Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Paramount, Disney, CBS, ABC, and NBC sued Cablevision in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, arguing that remote storage is the equivalent of Video On-Demand and therefore violates fair use provisions in copyright laws. Cablevision argued that the entertainment industry's lawsuit is based on a misunderstanding of the technology, which only allows for personal viewing.

"To play back programs recorded with RS-DVR, customers will still retrieve from their own dedicated computer memory their own unique copies that they have recorded themselves," the response stated. "And, just as with traditional set-top storage DVRs, programs that customers record using RS-DVR will be accessible and viewable only in the customer's home."

The countersuit also refers to the Betamax case decision, which cited a limited scope of the copyright laws and allowed consumers to record programming for later viewing.

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