SONICBlue Asks Court to Overturn User-Monitoring Order

A federal court granted SONICBlue a temporary reprieve from lower court's order that would have forced the company to monitor the viewing habits of ReplayTV 4000 users.

Television studios alleging copyright infringement had won a lower court's order forcing SONICBlue to remotely install software on PVRs to monitor the use of the product without the users' knowledge. The studios might have then been able to use the evidence in possible future lawsuits.

But a judge of the U.S. Court for the Central District of California granted SONICBlue's motion to stay that order pending her hearing on the matter June 3.

A coalition of civil liberties and consumer groups have filed a friend-of-the-court brief against the lower court's order, saying it infringes on individuals' rights to privacy and intellectual freedom. According to the coalition, the studios have no right to monitor personal viewing preferences for their own purposes without the users' consent, and that knowing of such an intrusion might dissuade users from watching whatever they wish.

The groups represented in the brief are the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Center for Digital Democracy, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Consumer Action, Media Access Project, Public Knowledge and The Privacy Foundation.