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ReplayTV Users Seek Class Action in "Digital Betamax" Case

January 8, 2004

ReplayTV Users Seek Class Action in "Digital Betamax" Case

Consumers Defend Use of Digital Video Recorders

A group of ReplayTV owners will ask a court on Monday to allow all owners of ReplayTV digital video recorders to join an ongoing lawsuit to protect consumers' rights to skip over television commercials and send recorded programs from one digital device to another.

Date: Monday, January 12, 2004
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Judge: Hon. Florence-Marie Cooper
Court: District Court, Central District of California, Courtroom 750
Location: Edward R. Roybal Federal Building and Courthouse, 255 East Temple Street, Los Angeles, California 90012

The case was sparked after a top entertainment industry executive began publicly to claim that people who don't watch television commercials are "thieves" and 28 entertainment companies subsequently launched a lawsuit against the makers of ReplayTV arguing that using the digital video recorder to skip commercials and send programs is against the law.

Five ReplayTV owners, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Richard Wiebe, and Ira Rothken of the Rothken Law Firm in San Rafael, decided to fight back. In June of 2002, they filed a lawsuit asking the court to declare that these uses are legal.

The makers of ReplayTV have since been driven into bankruptcy, and the entertainment companies are now attempting "buy out" the five individual ReplayTV owners by offering them, and only them, a "covenant not to sue," while failing to grant protection to the estimated 5,000 other owners of ReplayTV digital video recorders that have the commercial skipping and "send show" features. The companies have also asked the court to dismiss the case.

In the face of these challenges the plaintiffs are charging ahead, asking the court to include all ReplayTV owners in the case, and to determine, once and for all, whether they can legitimately use all of the device's features.

The proposed consumer class action representatives are Craig Newmark, the founder of craigslist.org, Glenn Fleishman, Phil Wright and Thomas White.

Contact:

Cindy Cohn
Legal Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
cindy@eff.org

Gwen Hinze
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
gwen@eff.org

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