Second Circuit: Remote DVR system does not infringe content providers' copyrights

In a decision last week, the Second Circuit reversed a lower court's grant of summary judgment holding that the defendant's remote-storage DVR system violated the plaintiffs' rights of reproduction and public performance.  The Plaintiffs were various content providers, and the defendant was a cable company.  The remote-storage DVR system lets customers store recorded television shows on a central server, rather than on a hard drive in the customer's home, like standard DVRs.

The Second Circuit, examining how the RS-DVR system worked, held that buffer copies of programs that subsisted for a maximum of 1.2 seconds were too transient to be considered "fixed" under copyright law, and as such the buffer copies were not "copies" as defined by the Copyright Act.  Further, the court held that because the copying of programming onto a consumer's specified hard drive space on the RS-DVR system was automatically done in response to a customer's request, the defendant was not liable for direct infringement, finding the situation to resemble "a store proprietor who charges customers to use a photocopier on his premises."  Finally, the court held the RS-DVR system did not infringe the public performance right, as the copies in question were only transmitted to a single subscriber using a single unique copy produced by that subscriber.  Thus, the transmissions were not performances to the "public," and did not infringe the public performance right.

More on Cartoon Network LP, LLLP v. CSC Holdings, Inc. after the jump.


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