Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Supremes decline to kill Cable DVRs

Television and movie companies have always been nervous about consumer recording systems. There was a huge fight over the VCR - which the studios lost. Then, a battle over putting television shows online. Now, the studios are trying to kill network cable DVRs. But the Supreme Court has refused to hear a case that could have shut them down entirely.

The justices declined to hear arguments on whether Cablevision Systems Corp.'s remote-storage DVR system would violate copyright laws. The end to the closely watched case allows the Bethpage, N.Y.-based company to proceed with plans to start deploying the technology this summer.

With remote storage, TV shows are kept on the cable operator's servers instead of a machine inside the customer's home, as systems offered by TiVo Inc. and cable operators currently do.

The distinction is important because a remote system essentially transforms every digital set-top box in the home into a DVR, allowing customers to sign up instantly, without the need to pick up a DVR from the nearest cable office or wait for a technician to visit.
It is always a bad thing to fight the future, because it is coming whether you like it or not. Here's hoping this decision - or lack thereof - forces television and movie studios to engage digital device makers to bring about the best experience for consumers, while keeping things profitable for artists.

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