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EFF Supports Cablevision in Copyright Case

21 Jun, 2007 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties group, has submitted an amicus brief with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Cablevision Systems Corp.

The Bethpage, N.Y., cable operator is seeking to overturn a federal judge's decision that would prohibit it from operating a network-based digital-video-recorder (DVR) service.

Last year, a group of entertainment companies filed a lawsuit against Cablevision alleging that its planned DVR service violated their copyrights.

Unlike TiVo and other cable-based DVR services, Cablevision's service would allow subscribers to record and store programming on the company's server instead of a set-top box.

“The Supreme Court has already ruled that consumers have a fair use right to time shift TV shows,” said Fred von Lohman, EFF senior intellectual property attorney. “It should not make a difference whether copies are stored inside their set-top boxes or back at Cablevision headquarters.”

The plaintiffs, which include 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, The Walt Disney Co., and TV networks ABC, CBS and NBC, claimed such an arrangement circumvented “simultaneous broadcast” license agreements that forbid cable companies from storing content and repurposing it for a fee without a separate license.

Cablevision has about 3 million subscribers in New York City, Connecticut and New Jersey.

A decision is expected this summer.

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