RAM Copying – An Issue of More Than Transitory Duration

13 10 2008

In The Cartoon Network LP, LLP v. CSC Holdings, Inc., No. 07-1480 & 07-1511 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 4, 2008), the Second Circuit considered several important issues on the way to concluding that Cablevision’s proposed operation of a remote digital video recorder (RS-DVR) system does not infringe the rights of reproduction and public performance of its program providers.

Perhaps the most important issue in the case for new media lawyers is the court’s treatment of the issue of RAM, or buffer, copying. The Second Circuit concluded that while a copy in RAM may a “copy” under the Copyright Act, it is not a copy as a matter of law. In so ruling, the Second Circuit took on not only the oft-cited (and oft-criticized) Ninth Circuit opinion in MAI Systems Corp. v. Peak Computer, Inc., 991 F.2d 511 (9th Cir. 1993), it also took on the opinion of the Copyright Office, and arguably created a split in the circuits on the issue.


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