Monday, June 29, 2009

Supreme Court Won't Hear Cablevision Case

Image representing CSC as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase

Wrapping up the 2008 Term today, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in Cable News Network, Inc., et al. v. CSC Holdings, Inc. (08-448).

The High Court's refusal, without comment, to hear the case lets stand the unanimous 3-0 ruling of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which overturned a trial judge, by deciding that the Dolan family-owned Cablevision Systems Corp.(CSC) would not infringe copyrights through its new television recording service. CSC will enable subscribers to store tv programs on CSC's computer servers, rather than on a hard-top box. Customers who do not have a digital video recorder (DVR) can rely on a remote storage DVR (RS-DVR) to store programs requested by the customers, who can retrieve them for viewing with a remote control and standard cable set-top box.

CNN, CBS Corp., The Walt Disney Co., General Electric, News Corp. and other video content providers are the big losers in the Court's decision not to disturb the 2d Circuit ruling. The video content providers, backed by groups as divergent as music companies, Major League Baseball, and the Screen Actors Guild, argued that cable companies such as CSC would be taking programs that they paid the providers to air on cable systems and misappropriating the programs for an additional unlicensed use via RS-DVR.

The Supreme Court denial of a writ of certiorari likely derails efforts by the content providers to seek additional licensing fees from CSC and their ilk. The case invited comparisons to Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios, Inc. (464 U.S. 417 (1984)) in which the Supreme Court held that VCR makers could not be held liable for giving consumers the means to make cassettes of copyrighted programs broadcast on television.
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