On Monday, the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari in Cable News Network, Inc. v. CSC Holdings, Inc. Plaintiffs, including major networks such as NBC, CBS, FOX, Disney and Paramount, appealed from a Second Circuit decision overturning an injunction against Cablevision’s proposed “remote-storage DVR,” which allows users to store TV shows on the operator’s server rather than on a physical box in their homes. The Second Circuit held that Cablevision’s remote-storage DVR would not violate the networks’ copyrights over their programming by, as plaintiffs argued, making unauthorized reproductions and engaging in public performances of their works. With the Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari, that decision stands and will enable Cablevision to proceed with its plan to launch the remote-storage DVR service later this summer.

While this is certainly not the end of the issue, and networks will understandably continue to want to put a stop to whatever new technology minimizes the value of television advertising, the Supreme Court made the right decision in declining to delve into the issue just yet. First of all, as pointed out in a brief submitted by the Obama administration, the parties’ agreement to take the issues of indirect infringement liability and fair use off the table “distorts the questions that remain and would prevent the court from seeing the whole fundamental controversy in this case.” Additionally, Cablevision’s CEO has expressed interest in working with the networks to find ways other than primetime TV schedules to increase advertising values. Without the Court’s interference, perhaps companies can find a mutually beneficial way to make new technological advances, like Cablevision’s remote-storage DVR, widely available to consumers.

Maurie Donnelly

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