Network DVR, aka cloud DVR, is the future of television recording, although digital rights management issues still hamper its development as providers must stay on the right side of copyright laws.
The eventual move to cloud DVR is obvious, and that’s because it benefits all the major stakeholders:
- Operators benefit because they can deliver DVR services without putting costly hardware in subscribers’ homes, the costs for operating and maintaining network DVR services are lower, and they can increase profitability by offering value-added services to subscribers and partners.
- Subscribers benefit from anywhere access thanks to the network DVR model. Content owners and advertisers have more control over their programming.
Yet, cloud DVR is still in its infancy because of time-shifted TV legal issues.
“If courts deem the use private, then the service is legally covered by the private-copy exception to copyright and service providers don’t need to seek approval to record or playback content from the network,” wrote Roland Mestric, Director, Multimedia Solutions Marketing, Global Corporate Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert), in a recent blog, Cloud DVR: Don’t go Wrong on Content Rights. “If, however, courts decide the use is public, then service providers must obtain approval and reach agreements with rights holders.”
Eventually network DVR content rights issues will be resolved, and IP video will become the primary way that programming is recorded, to the benefit of all. Until that time, however, operators still can take advantage of cloud DVR. They just need to hedge their bets and take a gradual approach.
Until cloud DVR is allowed in all jurisdictions, operators can replicate the tradition set-top model but in the cloud. This version of cloud DVR can provide private copies, give limited storage space as a result, limit the number of concurrent recordings or playbacks, and restrict mobile playback. This solution, while not as elegant or efficient as the cloud DVR of the future, can satisfy content rights as they exist today because they replicate existing DVR access but through the cloud.
Once the content rights issues are resolved, operators then can unleash the full potential of cloud DVR.
“Service providers can then relax some of these constraints through simple software system configuration changes as regulations and agreements evolve,” noted Mestic in his blog. “For example, operators can increase storage space, remove expiry dates, and allow shared-copy in this manner.”
So, it is important that operators pick cloud DVR technology that can work on either the private copy or shared copy cloud DVR model, and that they have some form of cloud DVR in play right away.
Edited by Peter Bernstein