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Summary:

Cablevision can do a victory lap today as the Supreme Court decided to not hear the appeal over the cableco’s remote storage (or “network”) DVR. The decision paves the way for DVR functionality and storage to move from a set-top box in a user’s home to […]

Cablevision can do a victory lap today as the Supreme Court decided to not hear the appeal over the cableco’s remote storage (or “network”) DVR. The decision paves the way for DVR functionality and storage to move from a set-top box in a user’s home to Cablevision’s facilities, where users would access and control recorded content remotely through their TV sets.

The case against Cablevision was brought on by a group of Hollywood studios and networks who claimed that the technology violated their copyrights. After years of working its way through the legal system, the Supreme Court asked the Justice Department to weigh in on the topic in January. In May, the Solicitor General recommended the Supremes not take up the case, and it looks like that advice was heeded.

Other cable companies, like Time Warner Cable and Comcast, have been on the sidelines waiting for the outcome of Cablevision’s case before implementing their own remote DVR solution. Remote DVRs are cheaper for cable companies because they don’t have to deal with distribution and installation of boxes in the home. Last year, Cablevision said its remote storage DVR would offer 160 GB of storage, would cost customers $9.95 a month and save the company $100 per customer.

The whole concept of video on demand is in the midst of a radical shift. Between remote DVRs, which should begin rolling out this year, and the TV Everywhere campaign, which will expand the availability of cable programming online — there will be more options than ever for viewers to consume content…and more control than ever handed over to the cable companies.

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  1. There is a distinction between remote storage DVR and network DVR.

    In RS-DVR, each subscriber gets a dedicated amount of server side storage and a programme that is recorded by multiple users is recorded multiple times in each user’s space. n-DVR optimises the storage by only storing a single copy of each recorded programme, and maintains references and counts to tie it to each user’s own recording list.

    I believe the Cablevision case relates exclusively to RS-DVR and that n-DVR is not tested in court yet. RS-DVR was perhaps seen as easier to get approval for in that it effectively takes a hard drive out of the STB and into the network.

    Depending on the dynamics of the service, the storage and storage management requirements could be quite significantly higher for RS-DVR. It requires a video operator to become more of a hosted storage provider than n-DVR does.

    1. Thanks Andy.

  2. Hey Comcast, Skip Content and Spend Money on These Things Thursday, October 1, 2009

    [...] silver box out of your house and move the DVR to your home office. We realize Cablevision’s legal victory doesn’t mean the technology is totally out of the woods yet, but be bold — push the [...]

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