Just four weeks ago, some of the biggest names in the US entertainment business – CBS, NBC, Viacom and Disney – filed suit against SONICblue, a developer of consumer electronic equipment.
They claimed that SONICblue’s ReplayTV 4000 series of digital video recorders, and its Go Video DDV2120 Dual-Deck VCR, enabled copyright infringement by including features making it easier for consumers to skip commercials after making home recordings.
Now, SONICblue has claimed a first round victory, announcing that all four companies have filed amendments to their lawsuit voluntarily dropping the portion of their copyright infringement lawsuit that challenged the Company’s Dual Deck VCR.
The Company is currently shipping the Go Video Dual-Deck VCR series and has announced plans to begin shipping its ReplayTV 4000 this month. The plaintiffs originally sought to halt shipment of both products.
‘Obviously, the networks concluded their legal argument against our Dual Deck VCR was not strong enough to move forward,’ said Ken Potashner, CEO and chairman, SONICblue.
‘We assume the networks foresaw an adverse ruling.’
In documents filed in the US District Court in Los Angeles, the lawyers representing the networks Viacom and Disney filed an Amended Complaint against the Company that withdrew all claims based on the DDV2120 Dual-Deck VCR.
SONICblue’s Potashner said he believes that consumers should be able to take advantage of technology that lets them control how, when and what they watch on their personal televisions.
‘We give consumers the choice of whether to watch shows they have recorded with or without commercials,’ Potashner added.
‘We’re not enabling consumers to do anything they can’t do now. We’ve just figured out a more convenient, easier way for consumers to control what they watch and when they watch it. The courts have concluded that home recording is a personal, fair use right that consumers may enjoy.’
‘We are optimistic that the courts will continue to uphold the rights of consumers to receive the added convenience new technologies can provide,’ he concluded.
Editor’s note: The ReplayTV 4000 allows consumers to automatically pause, replay and slow-motion live television, with no tapes or timers, as well as choose to playback recorded programming with or without commercials using a function dubbed ‘Commercial Advance.’