The Electronic Frontier Foundation and customers of ReplayTV Inc. and SONICblue Inc. Thursday filed a lawsuit against the entertainment industry,
arguing that forbidding them to skip over commercials violates their rights.
"The studios are using their copyrights as an excuse to control what
individuals do with their own property in the privacy of their own homes," said
Robin Gross, an intellectual-property attorney with the EFF.
"These Hollywood guys want to stop me from using my digital-video recorder
like I use my VCR, like for watching shows when I want or zipping through
commercials," said Craig Newmark, a plaintiff in the case. "I want to give my
nephews and nieces a break from the rampant consumerism on TV by using
ReplayTV's commercial-skipping feature."
The motion-picture studios and TV networks that are suing SonicBlue and
ReplayTV called the suit a "publicity stunt."
"This complaint mischaracterizes the nature of the case against SONICblue and
ReplayTV. Our lawsuit is against SONICblue and ReplayTV, not individual users.
We have never indicated any desire or intent to bring legal action against
individual consumers for use of this device," they said in a joint
Nearly 30 entertainment companies -- including the four major broadcast
networks -- sued SONICblue and ReplayTV last fall.
Earlier this week, U.S. District Court Judge Florence Marie-Cooper ruled that
SONICblue did not have to turn over customer data to the entertainment
That decision permanently overturned a ruling in April by a lower court that
would have required the two companies to provide entertainment companies
with anonymous data showing how customers used their "Replay 4000" units to record
shows, skip commercials and electronic-mail programs to friends.