The US Supreme Court asked the Justice Department (DOJ) advice on whether the network PVR service of cabler Cablecom would violate the copyrights of the TV networks and Hollywood film studios. The consultation adds up to a delay in the decision making process.
Three years ago, the networks and studios went to court in New York, seeking to block Cablevision from introducing its network PVR service saying it infringes their rights. The question is: who does the recording? Is it the consumer with their remote control or is the cable operator? In first instance, a federal judge ruled against Cablevision in 2006. Last year, the appeals court turned the table.
It is not the first time Hollywood has acted against new technical developments. In 1984, the Supreme Court cleared the way for the use of video recorders when it rejected a similar copyright challenge. Today, studio income from video sales and rentals (including DVD and Blu-Ray) exceed proceedings from box office sales.
In Europe, a number of operators are experimenting with network PVR technology, including catch-up and “re-start” services. In most cases, these pilots are based on agreements with broadcasters and only include cleared programming.