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Supreme Court seeks federal guidance on Cablevision’s nDVR plans

Tue, 01/13/2009 - 7:35am
Mike Robuck

According to published reports, the United States Supreme Court yesterday turned to the federal government for its take on the appeal by film studios and video content providers on a previous ruling that would allow Cablevision to deploy its network-based digital video recorder (nDVR) service.

The Supreme Court asked the Justice Department’s solicitor general to file a brief that would encompass the federal government’s views on the appeal, according to Reuters. It could take up to several months for the brief to be filed.

The Supreme Court will decide to hear or reject the appeal after the brief is filed.

Previously, the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York found that Cablevision’s nDVR service wouldn’t infringe on the copyrights of the video content owners if it was deployed.

Film studios and TV networks that have sued to block Cablevision’s nDVR service include Time Warner Inc., Walt Disney Co. and CBS Corp. The video content owners won a preliminary round in a federal court before losing in the appeals court.

The service, which was first proposed by Cablevision in 2006, would allow subscribers to view video content that is stored on the network instead of a personal DVR. The subscribers would be able to playback the nDVR video content whenever they wished.

Storing content on the network would allow cable operators to save money on set-top box truck rolls and the purchase of the set-top boxes themselves.

The concept of nDVR isn’t new. Time Warner Cable first looked at deploying an nDVR service, which it called MystroTV, in 2003. Instead of going with a full version of network-based DVR, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks have used elements of the Mystro technology for Start Over and Look Back.

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