Cablevision Draws Distinction Between Zediva and Its Remote DVR Service

The Motion Picture Association of America is touting a Cablevision amicus brief filing Tuesday in the studio's request of a California district court for a preliminary injunction against online movie service, Zediva.

In a blog posting, MPAA pointed out that the brief supported its position that Zediva transmitting movies to the public and that it was a video on demand service rather than a bricks and mortar movie rental service.

"While we don't agree with or endorse everything in Cablevision's brief," said MPAA, "the fact that it largely supports the studios' positions is particularly significant given that Cablevision was on the opposite side from the studios in The Cartoon Network LP, LLLP v. CSC Holdings, Inc. (the 'Cablevision case')."

The studios filed suit last April, saying that unlike Netflix and other licensed movie streaming sites, it was distributing movies without permission and infringing on their copyrights.

Zediva claims that it is a movie rental service rather than one distributing public performances over the Internet.

Actually, Cablevision said it was weighing in to clarify how this case was different from the Cartoon Network case, in which the court ruled that Cablevision's remote DVR functionality was not a public performance and thus not subject to a per-performance license fee.

In its amicus brief in the Zediva case, Cablevision pointed out that while its DVR was simply a customer accessing a show he or she had chosen to record remotely, Zediva was operating more like a video on demand service that chooses individual movies to make available for a price.  

For that reason, said Cablevision, unlike its remote DVR service, Zediva's did constitute a public performance, which, MPAA points out, would mean that Zediva should be paying a performance right.

Cablevision did not say that outright or explicitly recommend that the injunction be granted, but it did say that the court should render its decision "consistently with the principles" it had set forth.

A hearing on the injunction request has been set for July 25 in Los Angeles.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.