Universal, 20th Century Fox, Paramount and Walt Disney, along with the three major broadcast television networks, have filed a lawsuit against the cable TV provider Cablevision over copyright issues. It seems they aren't very happy with a certain new service that Cablevision is about to launch. This "on-demand" service will let subscribers save and store shows and movies on a computer server and then play them back whenever they like. Sound a lot like TiVo? Well, the difference -- and the problem -- is that unlike TiVo, a digital recorder that stores the programs onto a personal server in the viewer's home, Cablevision's service will be storing them on the company's servers. The details aren't as complicated as they seem -- the copyright law is pretty specific -- but the suit does seem a bit picky. Still, it seems that Cablevision could just simply rework its idea so that it complies with the law in the same way that TiVo does. They could put a server into the cable box, for instance. But the cable provider is instead insisting that their service is more legit than it seems.

If Cablevision somehow wins the suit (I doubt it), it will likely cause other changes in the cable industry, as the other major providers, Time Warner and Comcast, might follow Cablevision's lead. Not only would this change increase the possibilities of "on-demand" services already available -- the difference now being that only select programs are available -- but it would also make the TiVo an obsolete device in the home. Hmm. Maybe TiVo would like to get in on this battle?