Court Rules That Your DVR Doesn't Have To Exist

In an interesting ruling with far-reaching ramifications, a US Court of Appeals in New York has decided that Cablevision was within its rights to offer a network Digital Video Recorder service to its customers. Instead of a hard drive in every home, your set-top cable box would be able to use a cloud computer arrangement to view programming stored centrally. A group of media companies had sued, claiming that showing recorded programs held on a network server is a form of copyright infringement, even though the Cable company would pay for the right to show the programming in the first place. The media companies had prevailed in a lower court, but the reversal means that the producers of media content can't specify the exact method of transmission of their products to the public, unless the media companies can appeal to the US Supreme Court, get a hearing, and win.

“In short order, effective DVR penetration could now jump to north of 60 percent of cable households (that is, all digital cable subscribers),” Mr. Moffett wrote in a report. “That means a huge increase in the number of viewing hours per day potentially subject to ad-skipping.”

Network DVRs also prop open the door to new methods of advertising. Cablevision could insert ads dynamically, customizing and updating commercial pods for different consumers and at different times.

“It allows advertisers to do things they can’t do on a physical DVR,” Mr. Rutledge said. “Let’s say you record an episode of ‘Lost.’ Three months later you want to play it back. The advertising that was on ‘Lost’ is stale and no longer applies, but the capability to refresh the advertising exists if the content owner wants to do that with the cable operator.”

Heh. Let's get real. Dynamic customization of advertising might be the only bone the Cable providers have to throw to the media companies, but we all know they're dynamically selecting the advertisements we'll all be fast-forwarding right past, or will be shown only to the couch cushions while we're in the bathroom. Technology is reshuffling the deck of all sorts of long-held arrangements in copyright, content generation, and advertising, and the people that used to hold all the cards don't like it. They should all just hire the ShamWow! guy. [Warning! Vince the Shamwow! guy isn't shy and just starts talking if you click on the link] I never fast forward past that guy. He's mesmerizing. But I never buy one, so maybe that approach won't work, either.
Tags:  DVR, Court, rules, AV, RT, VR, DOE