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SONICblue Gets Stay In ReplayTV Case

SONICblue was granted a stay of a magistrate judge’s April 26 ruling in the Paramount Pictures versus ReplayTV case, which requests that the hardware maker monitor its customers viewing habits.

The stay defers final termination of the need for SONICblue to develop software capable of monitoring ReplayTV 4000 usage until at least June 3 when the judge will hear SONICblue’s arguments.

Four leading technology trade associations have weighed in against the magistrate judge’s court order. The Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) filed the friend of the court brief, noting that the judge’s order establishes a harmful “principle of judicial intervention in technology design.”

The April 16 order required Replay TV and SONICblue to gather data about how customers use their hardware devices to copy and store televised works, omit commercials from television programs, and share programs with others. In addition, the judge ordered the interactive TV companies to create and distribute new software for this purpose.

The brief stated, “The uncertainty and chilling effect created by the Court’s order pose serious long-term risks for the development of new technology products and the innovation of new technology. The principles embodied in the Magistrate Judge’s order would, if adopted elsewhere, discourage technological innovation, seriously harm the developers of new technology, and reduce consumer choice.”

In a prepared statement, CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro said, “This order, if allowed to stand, will jeopardize a manufacturer’s brand equity with its customers… [and] appears to require an unprecedented invasion of privacy.”

A copy of the brief is on the Web at