The U.S. Supreme Court has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to submit its opinion on a Second Circuit appeals court ruling that a network-based digital video recorder (DVR) service developed by Cablevision does not violate copyrights held by film studios and other producers of video content. The case currently before the high court stems from Cablevision’s announcement in 2006 that it would a deploy a network-based DVR system that—unlike traditional DVRs and video cassette recorders (VCRs)—would allow subscribers to store recorded programs on the cable company’s servers for future playback. Other cable operators, including Comcast and Time Warner Cable, are said to be planning similar remote DVR systems, which, according to analysts, could save cable companies the significant expense of installing DVR set-top boxes in subscriber homes. Various TV networks and film studios such as CBS, the Walt Disney Company, and News Corp. filed suit against Cablevision’s plan on grounds that the proposed remote DVR service would violate copyright laws and that the act of enabling subscribers to play back content stored on the cable company’s servers would also violate retransmission terms between Cablevision and the networks. Although a federal district court judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, the Second Circuit reversed that decision last year upon finding that subscribers—not Cablevision—controlled the act of copying. For that reason, the appeals court concluded that Cablevision’s remote DVR service bore a close resemblance to VCRs, which the U.S. Supreme Court determined in 1984 were legal and did not infringe copyrights as long as programs were recorded exclusively for private use within the home. At the request of the networks, the Supreme Court agreed last fall to review the case. On Monday, however, the justices issued a one-line order inviting the DOJ “to file a brief in this case expressing the views of the United States.” (Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito did not sign the order as they have recused themselves from the case.) Observers predict it will take months for the U.S. Solicitor General to submit the DOJ brief. If, at that time, the Solicitor General advises the Supreme Court to proceed with the case, a decision may not be handed down until September or later.
- How-to guide How-to guide: How to protect your company from violations of the United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (USA)
- Checklist Checklist: Reviewing a confidentiality agreement (receiving party) (USA)
- How-to guide How-to guide: How to draft a confidentiality agreement and confidentiality clauses (USA)