The Solicitor General filed a brief
with the Supreme Court on Friday that is good news for anyone who likes the idea of being able to record digital television without having to acquire and install a digital video recorder (DVR) box in the home. More importantly, the brief significantly reduces the chances of a decision that could cast a legal cloud over a wide range common network and computing technologies.
In August 2008, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned
a lower court ruling that had barred Cablevision from rolling out a DVR that would store recorded programs on a remote server instead of on a hard drive in a box next to the TV. This "remote storage DVR" (RS-DVR) would have given consumers a new choice for TV recording functionality, much as phone-company-provided voicemail gives consumers an alternative to buying and installing answering machines. But the lower court said it would violate the copyrights in recorded programs. As CDT explained
two years ago, that ruling would have carried dangerous implications for any networked-based service that stores data remotely -- in other words, for the many services that embrace the trend towards "cloud computing." The basic message seemed to be that when a company enables users to store data on equipment located at the company's facilities, the company can be directly liable for any data that violates copyright.
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