Supreme Court Lets Cable Company Store Recorded TV Shows

The Supreme Court announced Monday it will not take up a copyright infringement case involving major television and film companies and supported by interests in the music, sports and entertainment industries.

The announcement puts off for the time being a final ruling on this issue that could have huge implications in the future of digital recordings and efforts to store them for later use.

The companies contend a cable provider's use of a remote-storage digital video recording (RS-DVR) device for its subscribers violates federal copyrights laws.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of major television broadcasters, including ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as film studios Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox, which is owned by the same parent company as Fox News.

• Click here for's Personal Technology Center.

• Got tech questions? Ask our experts at's Tech Q&A.

The claim is that Cablevision's use of technology to store programming on servers it controls and then releases upon the demand of its customers is done without the consent of the copyright owners.

"This case presents critical questions about the application of copyright law to automated computerized services that are rapidly reshaping how copyrighted works are reproduced, delivered and consumed," the companies argued.

The Supreme Court heard a similar case in the 1980's when it upheld the legality of home VCR's. Cablevision says its technology achieves the "same lawful purpose."

The cable company also agreed with a lower court's unanimous decision in favor of the RS-DVR and its comparison between Cablevision's service and the one that copy stores provide with self-service photocopiers.

Major music industry companies joined with Major League Baseball and the National Football League asking the Court to take the case. The Court's decision was made, as custom, without comment.

The Obama Administration filed a brief in the case asking the Court to deny review saying the issue hasn't been fully argued in lower courts to give the Supreme Court a more complete record.