As I blogged about a year ago here, Cablevision tried to introduce the concept of a "remote DVR" where a Cablevision video subscriber could access DVR functionality at the server level without having to purchase or lease a hard drive-enabled set top box for their house. It is very cool functionality, but as I pointed out, it was unlikely to withstand legal challenge.
This week, as could have been predicted by anyone with even a remote knowledge of copyright law, US District court judge Denny Chin ruled against the concept since it was a clearly a service which did the copying, and not the end user, which defeated the legal underpinning of the case - actual ruling can be downloaded here.
I dislike defending copyright holders' ability to hold back all progress, but it's hard to understand which counsel at Cablevision thought this concept was going to pass muster unless it was just a negotiating tactic - try looking at the MyMp3.com case next time before the legal clock starts ticking. That having been said, a network DVR should make a huge amount of sense for consumers and for cable companies - it just won't economically work once licenses are worked out with every content provider unless those rights can be granted as part of larger negotiations.