August 13, 2002 1:51 PM PDT

ReplayTV customers' case on hold

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's efforts to join the copyright lawsuit between consumer electronics maker Sonicblue and the entertainment industry may be on permanent hold.

U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper indicated that she is not inclined to allow the EFF to join Sonicblue in a response to suit that had been filed in June by the online civil liberties group. The EFF had sought to join Sonicblue in defense of a suit filed by several major TV networks and movie studios. The suit from the entertainment industry alleged that Sonicblue's ReplayTV device infringed on copyrights by letting consumers skip commercials and send shows to other ReplayTV owners over the Internet.

The plaintiffs and the EFF said they were hoping to join the Sonicblue case to bring the interests of consumers to the forefront in the litigation.

The plaintiffs in the case include five ReplayTV owners who say they like to skip commercials during shows their children watch and record shows to watch at a later time or on another device. Judge Cooper has not issued a decision but did write a tentative order denying a request to dismiss the case. In that same order she also granted a motion to stay the case and denied a motion to consolidate the case.

A final decision may come this week, according to Craig Newmark, one of the plaintiffs in the case and the creator of the San Francisco-based community Web site

The lawsuit is one of a number of concerns for Sonicblue, which late last week ousted Ken Potashner, former CEO, amid apparent disagreements between Potashner and other board members over company loans. Interim CEO Greg Ballard has defended the legality of the loans.

The changes in the management ranks at Sonicblue are not limited to the CEO position; there has also been turnover in the CFO and COO positions recently.


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