Background: The Solicitor General’s office today recommended that the U.S. Supreme Court not take up a case involving a service offered by the Cablevision cable company. Cablevision wanted to offer a digital-recording service, like TiVo, except that the copying and storage would be done at the cable head-end instead of in a set-top box. A batch of cable companies challenged Cablevision. A District Court upheld the studios in 2007; the Second Circuit U.S. Appeals Court overturned that ruling in August 2008. In October 2008, the studios asked the Supreme Court to take the case. In January, the Supreme Court asked the Office of Solicitor General for advice whether to take the case (grant certiorari).
More background here.
Read the SG Brief here
Here are the companies which sued Cablevision: The Cartoon Network LP, LLLP; Cable News Network
LP, LLLP; Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.; Turner Network Sales,
Inc.; Turner Classic Movies, L.P., LLLP; Turner Network
Television LP, LLLP; Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation;
Universal City Studios Productions LLLP, Paramount Pictures
Corporation; Disney Enterprises, Inc.; CBS Broadcasting
Companies, Inc.; and NBC Studios, Inc.
The following is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:
“The Justice Department made the correct call on behalf of consumers when it recommended earlier today that the Supreme Court not hear the challenge to Cablevision’s remote digital recording service (RS-DVR).
“We wholeheartedly agree with the Solicitor General. Common sense would dictate that a recording is a recording, whether made on a set-top box or in a cable head-end. We hope the U.S. Supreme Court follows this advice and removes any legal obstacles from the Cablevision service going forward.”
“As the Second Circuit found, there was no difference between recording from a set-top box and the cable head-end. It its central finding, the Solicitor General said: “For the last 30 years, consumers have been able to record televised programs and to play back the recorded programming at a later time. Respondents’ proposed RS-DVR service is part of a broader transition from analog to digital recording and playback, and from business models where consumers purchase a tangible item to those where they pay for a service.”
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