back to article US court liberates Cablevision 'remote DVR'

A US appeals court has given the thumbs up to Cablevision's new-age DVR, which stores recorded shows on remote servers rather than in-home hard drives. Reversing an earlier decision from a lower court, the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled that despite the remote-server setup of Cablevision's RS-DVR, end users …

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Unhappy

Last Of The Dinosaurs

Once again, the dinosaurs have failed to get their act together and recognise the obvious, which has been happening all around them for many years. Cablevision will now make more money by providing a service that people want.

"..The plaintiffs also argued that when shows are replayed, the Cablevision is "engaging in unauthorized public performances" of their copyrighted works..."

Actually no, the plaintiffs did not argue this, it was the plaintiffs' lawyers who threw this one up. The dinosaurs are not capable of summoning up any kind of argument because they cannot even think, so they pay other people to do it for them. As for the lawyers, they can think and the longer they manage to stay in court then the more they get paid so they'll say anything.

The dinosaurs are sitting on a massive collection of films, tv series and tv programmes but they are incapable of selling them to me or to many other people who are not willing to pay £15 for a DVD and are not impressed by DVD rental choice. The torrents provide low quality copies of things people really do want to watch at a very low price so they'll keep going there in their thousands. For people who are less computer/internet capable, Cablevision and their like will provide a service that people want and are willing to pay for.

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User selected VOD

Interesting. So we are basically talking something like the VOD (video on demand) system that VM have but the user selects what is on the VOD list. This would open up all the channels rather than the selected programs currently available and I guess the cable company would only, in reality, need to store one copy of each program. Would be interesting to see if it was then possible to retroactively add something to your online VCR. "Please 'record' yesterdays episode of x"?

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It'll also be...

...easier to delete the shows once the broadcasters decide you've had 'em long enough, presumably.

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But of course...

...if you don't have the phat bandwidth, you'll be waiting a while before you get to watch that episode of Allo Allo.

I wonder what the ISPs think of this device? It must really munch through bandwidth, and it's likely to be uploading during prime-time (coz that's when people often record).

Network congestion, yay! [/sarc]

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Sounds cool

When's something like this coming to the UK?

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Paris Hilton

How does it work?

So a Cablevision subscriber actually has to press the button to order a recording of a TV show prior to that show going out on air - the ruling makes this much clear.

Systems-wise however when that happens is a different recording made for each subscriber, or does every Cablevision subscriber who ordered a recording of a TV channel simply playback the same recording off the same server?

Indeed, are Cablevision thus recording the whole day's broadcasting of a number of TV networks onto these servers rather than waiting for the recording to be triggered by a subscriber?

If so (and I've no idea if it is so!), the interesting thing is that it would be a quite different kettle of fish of Cablevision were to retroactively make these recordings available to subscribers who had not ordered them prior to the show going out - technically it wouldn't make much difference, but legally it would mean that the viewer was no longer the entity doing the timeshifting and instead that would be Cablevision, which would indeed then be trampling on the rights of the networks by basically pirating their content.

Of course, the way it stands at the moment is quite compatible with the law - the DVR provides a timeshifting system for the subscriber, and it doesn't matter whether the HDD to provide that is sat in a subscribers home or in a server room at the cable headend - the physical location is irrelevant so long as it is providing the same functionality.

(To be clear one should not confuse this with the Video-On-Demand aka VOD services that many cable operators now provide - as cable operators specifically hold the rights to VOD programming that they make available on their systems - this issue concerns the recording of broadcast television stations.)

Paris, because she'll perform for video on demand.

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iPlayer and Others, implications...

so not a public broadcast if just to one subscriber.. at a time? Hmm very interesting.

bet they squash that one fast.

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@Wokstation

You've made the mistake of thinking the user would receive the data and then transmit it to the server. The server appears to be the originator of the data, so there's no upload.

It'll still munch bandwith like crazy though, so I doubt ISPs are overjoyed at this news.

And do you spend much time talking to yourself? It's a sign of insanity, you know. No really, it is. I said it is! Stop arguing with me! Stop it, I said, or I'm not going to talk to you anymore... and stop pulling that pouty face, it doesn't wash with me, young man!

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@Wokstation (both of you)

You (the schizophrenic both of you) are making the mistake of thinking that ISPs have anything to do with this. The data is delivered from the server at the cable headend over the cable company's cable network to the subscriber - thus there are no ISPs involved (unless you count the cable company as an ISP - but this is different, as even if they route the data through the same pipe as internet traffic their QoS systems will guarantee that the video stream is delivered as a priority).

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@Tim J: WTF - Piracy?!

WTF?! how exactly is it piracy to watch something i am already paying to be able to watch for? what's the difference if i pay for a subscription anyway (which enables me to watch and record channels 24/7) and being able to watch something from yesterday (for which i already paid, remember?) - based on the assumption i cannot watch stuff predating my subscription?

and - VOD - why can i record VOD on VHS, but are limited to just watch on most VOD channels w/o recording and watching it again without paying my x eur? Don't give me "lending from a videotheque" stuff, that business model was never clear to me, either... but that's not in scope.

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@Rob Farnell

"When's something like this coming to the UK?"

To the end user, it already is. What does the average Joe care if his V+/Sky+ cable box records locally or remotely ?

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Pirate

Already exists in Germany

Last time I looked there were two providers and for a while I tried one of them (ad-financed, so didn't cost me a cent). Here's how it works:

They have an EPG where you can select everything you want to record in advance (there is also an "Instant Start" button)

For every channel they have a receiver which records when at least one user has selected something on this channel. So they record only once, not for each user.

The recordings are encrypted and get distributed to several ad-financed mirror servers. Everyone can download them from there.

However, you can only decrypt them with a special software which looks up the server and sees if you have in fact selected this particular recording in advance. If so, it decrypts into an plain MPEG-stream, if not, you are out of luck :-)

Later they introduced a "friend" system where you can give a small number of other people access to your recording, so if you forgot to record something you might find a friend that gives it to you without having to give you a physical copy.

Why did I quit? Because the recording quality was poor, the download system was not very efficient, the servers were always overloaded and sometimes they recorded just the wrong channel.

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Anonymous Coward

UK

The laws on the UK are sufficiently clear that any judgement here would be the opposite - timeshifting is only allowed within your domestic premises.

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Torrents

Once again the networks attempt to make me lose any sympathy for them.

TORRENTS. Offering a simple, customer-friendly service, offering everything under the sun. Torrent websites take all of 24 hours to knock up. Until the networks bang their head together and come up with something that works, they can lose my custom.

Seriously, knock up a passworded torrent site called AllTV, get all the networks involved, and charge me 30p per downloaded torrent, to keep at my leisure, and you'll make a ton of money off me. Until then, sod off.

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Not VOD

Video on demand is a service that allows the subscriber to watch any movie or TV show that the cable company themselves decides to store and make available. The network itself determines how long these shows will be available, and who can access them.

Yes it is similar, but it isn't the same thing as the individual subscriber deciding which shows he/she wants to record, is the only person able to play back those recording decisions and the only person that decides how long to store them.

The court decision was absolutely bang on. What difference the length of wire separating the recording from the TV? If you record shows on a VCR with a really long cable, how long does the cable have to be before you say it's a violation of copyright?

In this case it's a hard disk and a broadband connection (via cable or satellite). If everyone had access to your recordings (and were actively downloading them), the studios might have a point. These are personal recordings stored in a remote location. Nothing in copyright law says this is illegal.

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UK Service

This type of service was available in the UK from www.tvcatchup.com between about 12th Dec 07 and 16th Feb 08 but they were suddenly shut down by the broadcasters (The lawyers complained, and the admins shut down the site without a fight. However, after talks with the aforementioned lawyers, they have apparently reopened the service, although only to closed beta users for the time being).

Also, the average Joe does care about whether or not the storage is remote or local, because local storage has limited space before the user has to start deleting things. Remote storage has no theoretical limit (only artificial ones that can be changed any time, when the service provider adds HDDs). Plus, local storage has no bandwidth issues, whereas remote storage can have problems (My Dad would be considered an 'Average Joe', but we are unable to use BT Vision because we cannot receive Freeview in our part of London, and our BT Broadband is not stable enough to use the On Demand features and be able to guarantee a watchable service. The fact that the service would be free because my Dad works for BT is not enough incentive to use something that doesn't work).

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JC

Bad deal for some customers.

I'm glad for the court ruling but not the off-site storage.

I for one would rather pay for my own hard drive and retain the copy of the video. Under Cablevision's proposed system if the cable goes out you can't watch any of your shows, and if you want to quit your cable service, whether it be due to switching providers (someday it's bound to be more possible) or having to move to another residence outside their area, you have just lost all your recordings.

What would the hard drive cost, maybe $50 in bulk when the cable service itself is probably as much or more?

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