Skip to main content
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Find a Lawyer

More Options

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Remote-Storage DVR Case

By Kevin Fayle on June 29, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019
The United States Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Hollywood and network television channels in the Cablevision remote storage DVR case, which ends the litigation and clears the air regarding Cablevision's service.  For now, at least.

The product that Cablevision offers to its customers allows them to perform normal DVR functions, like recording shows and pausing live TV, without pruchasing or renting an actual hardware device.

Instead, the content is recorded on Cablevision's servers while the user controls the actions of the DVR across the network.  The user makes all the decisions about what and when to record, but the actual recording occurs on Cablevision's hard drive instead of a hard drive inside a device in the subscriber's home.
Movie studios and television stations argued that the service violated their copyrights in the recorded material.  Cablevision countered that the service was nearly identical to typical hardware DVRs, it just shifted the site of the storage.

A federal district court judge initially sided with the plaintiffs, but a panel of the 2nd Circuit overturned that decision and held that the copies on Cablevision's servers, since they were only created upon the initiative of the subscriber, fell within the typical fair use exception for home recordings. 

The panel also found that a 1.2 second storage buffer was of a "transitory duration" and did not amount to copyright infringement.

While the Court's decision today effectively ends this particular case, don't expect the issue to go away.  The parties agreed to take many issues off the table in the case, such as fair use and indirect liability, so expect to see litigation in the future exploring those issues.

See Also:
Cablevision remote DVR stays legal: Supremes won't hear case (Ars Technica)
Supreme Court Serves Up Remote-Recording Victory (Wired: Threat Level)
The Death of Television Draws Ever Nearer (Gawker)

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:
Copied to clipboard