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Studios Sue to Halt DVR Service

25 May, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel



A group of entertainment companies has filed a lawsuit against Cablevision Systems Corp. alleging that a planned digital video recording service by the Bethpage, N.Y.-based company violates their copyrights.

The suit, filed May 23 in U.S. District Court of New York, claimed that Cablevision would begin testing a “network DVR” that allowed subscribers to record and store programming on the company's server instead of a set-top box.

The suit seeks an injunction against the launch of the service.

Conventional DVRs, including devices from DVR pioneer TiVo Inc., allow only the storage of content on the user's individual set-top box.

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

Cablevision, which owns Madison Square Garden and its sports teams, the New York Knicks, Rangers and Liberty, has about 3 million subscribers in New York City, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Cablevision spokesperson Jim Maiella said the company had done nothing illegal.

“This lawsuit is without merit [and it] reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of Cablevision's remote-storage DVR,” Maiella told the Associated Press.

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