Is Cablevision Caving On Remote DVR?
from the hopefully-not... dept
The networks love to set up absolutely ridiculous explanations like saying that Cablevision is like the person who sets up a gun to go off when a door opens, so it's not the person who opens the door who commits the murder, but the person who set it up. Except... that makes no sense. Murder is illegal. Recording a TV show for personal use is not. A more accurate analogy would be like setting up a pillow to fall on someone when you open the door. That's not illegal for either the person who opened the door, or the person who set it up... because the action (falling pillow/recording a show for personal use) is perfectly legal. But the networks want to ignore this, and tried to twist copyright law by saying that because Cablevision's remote DVR creates a buffer version for a fraction of a second, it's making a copy, and thus violating copyright law. Seriously.
While a district court bought the argument, the appeals court (thankfully) pointed out how ridiculous this interpretation of the law was, and said the device is legal. The networks are now appealing to the Supreme Court, and the court has asked the Obama administration for input. I know there's been massive lobbying from a lot of different parties trying to get the administration up to speed on the detailed issues, and hopefully the important points get across. While this may seem like a trivial issue, it could impact nearly every online service, that suddenly becomes liable for making a "buffer" copy on its own servers based on something you do on your computer. Lots of "cloud" computing services could suddenly face massive copyright liabilities.
Still... while we wait for the Supreme Court to go one way or the other with this, it appears that Cablevision has been negotiating a compromise on the device, which (as Broadband Reports notes) probably means making things a lot worse for consumers (funny how that works). Once again, we'd have a scenario where content companies are killing off innovation because they're unable to adapt themselves -- and that's a really sad outcome. However, it might also lead to an end of the lawsuit, which could leave the appeals court ruling standing (which would be a good thing, rather than risk a Supreme Court overturn).