Copyright Alliance Begs Supreme Court To Make Remote DVRs Illegal

from the we-prefer-our-screwed-up-copyright-laws dept

You may recall that the Copyright Alliance is a group that is basically the personal vehicle of Patrick Ross, a copyright maximalist, who has been known to twist copyright law to ridiculous extremes on a regular basis. He's the guy who has claimed that fair use harms innovation, that government-backed monopolies in copyright represent a free market and any attempt to actually free up the market and remove government backed monopolies would be unnecessary regulation that would result in market failure. Ross also sent all of the presidential candidates one of the most ridiculous surveys ever on their views on copyright, that was written in an extremely leading "and when did you stop beating your wife" style.

With such extreme and twisted views, it's no surprise that Ross has lined up a bunch of big entertainment companies to back him as he goes around trying to convince politicians that day is night and up is down when it comes to copyright -- but now he's moved on to trying to convince the Supreme Court as well. As you may recall, back in August there was an extremely important Appeals Court ruling that noted that Cablevision's remote DVR setup did not infringe on copyrights. The ruling pointed out the rather obvious troubles that would occur if we interpreted copyright laws the way copyright holders wanted to. It's clear that DVRs, like TiVo, are perfectly legal in the home. Time shifting shows has been found, quite clearly, to be legal. Cablevision's remote DVR is effectively the same exact thing. The only difference is that the DVR is stored at Cablevision data center, rather than at someone's home. The ruling, quite clearly, demonstrated how twisted copyright law has become, as it is patched up each time some new technology comes along.

The importance of this ruling cannot be understated, however, as it will enable many important online services that will be tremendously useful. Needless to say, copyright maximalists in the entertainment industry don't like that. They prefer the way things used to be, and want the law to force the market never to change. So, before the Supreme Court has even decided whether or not to hear the appeal on the case, Ross's Copyright Alliance has already begged the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling -- the first time the Alliance has become involved in any lawsuit. The amicus brief itself, basically uses Ross's typical logic: copyright is good, therefore, making companies pay multiple times for different types of licenses to use content in more ways must be even better!

Hopefully, the court recognizes the logical fallacies in the filing. Preventing this service will not help anyone. The entertainment industry that Ross claims to represent thinks that this will get companies like Cablevision to pay them yet again for content it already licensed. But, the reality is that they'll just move on. People will instead keep buying TiVos or home DVRs, and the potential for truly new and unique services that make the entertainment company's content even more valuable will be greatly diminished. Ross and the content companies falsely believe that the old model is the best, and that content should be paid for again and again, every time it's accessed. Basic economics tells you that this is wrong, and that protectionist policies -- such as what Ross champions -- only shrinks markets and hurts just about everyone.
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Filed Under: copyright, copyright alliance, patrick ross, remote dvrs, supreme court
Companies: cablevision


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  1. identicon
    Iggy, 7 Nov 2008 @ 3:29pm

    This is nonsense.

    I can buy a DVR and place it in my family room. Or I can place it in any room I want. If I wanted to, I could buy the same DVR, install it in a server room in another location, and use a network to transfer the content to it instead of a Monster cable. My use of the content is exactly the same. The ONLY thing that has changed is the connection configuration of my DVR. Does copyright law apply to component configuration? I think not. it only applies to content use.

    So now, to reduce costs, I'm going to use a server instead of a brand-name DVR to store my content. Nothing else is being changed. Does copyright law specify allowable hardware configurations? No, it doesn't.

    As the next step, my service provider is going to lower his costs by creating a library of files versus a collection of individual files. This is invisible to me. It does not in any way change my service agreement with the content provider and/or copyright owners. It is simply another hardware optimization.

    Bottom line: this whole thing is a farce. The copyright owner and content distributors establish a relationship with me. They charge me for services. As long as I don't violate our agreement regarding USE of that content, it is none of their business how my infrastructure is configured.

    Sigh.

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