Supreme Court Declines to Hear Cablevision Case: Video Providers, Consumers and Innovation all Win

June 29, 2009 , ,

We just got word that the Supreme Court has declined to review the Cablevision remote DVR case. This is the case where Hollywood and some cable networks sued Cablevision for providing a TiVo-like service where the copy of the recorded program resides on the cable operator's servers rather than on a hard drive in the home. The studios claimed that both the buffer copies and the copies residing on Cablevision's servers were a violation of its right to reproduce the program, and that the recordings sent to the customer were a violation of its public performance right. A lower court in New York City sided with Hollywood, but the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, ruling that the remote DVR service did not violate Hollywood's copyrights.

The Court's decision not to take the case is a huge victory for consumers and all video service providers, not just cable. Remote DVR service saves money both for service providers and consumers and allows for greater flexibility. It also encourages video service providers to develop new innovative services for their customers. And to the extent that the case raised questions about copyright liability for buffer copies and remote storage, the Court's decision not to hear the case puts to rest (for now) fears about the possible adverse affects on cloud computing and webcasting of a high court decision reversing the 2nd Circuit decision.

One never quite knows exactly why the Supreme Court refuses to hear a case, but the fact that the Solicitor General weighed in on our side last month after both sides lobbied her furiously helped enormously. Props are particularly due to Cablevision's counsel, Jeff Lamken of Baker and Botts. Jeff is the legal and strategic mastermind whose hard work was largely responsible for this terrific outcome.

Here is our press release on today's decision.