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Court Upholds Dish's Hopper Ad-Skipping Feature

20 Jan, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Ruling is sixth in favor of Dish Network

The United States District Court, Central District of California, Jan. 20 publicly released Judge Dolly Gee’s summary ruling upholding Dish Network’s right under U.S. copyright law to incorporate ad-skipping technology on the Hopper DVR, among other features.

The ruling is the sixth in favor of Dish, which has marketed the AutoHop ad-skipping feature that allows users to play back certain PrimeTime Anytime recordings (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox broadcasts) commercial-free.

Gee also upheld PrimeTime Anytime allowing users to save primetime recordings up to eight days after initial broadcast, in addition to watching (“Transfers”) content on non-connected devices.

The sealed ruling had been submitted Jan. 12 but was not disclosed publicly after Dish and plaintiff Fox News Network L.L.C. indicated a willingness to resolve the dispute.

A Dish spokesperson declined comment on the status of any resolution.

R. Stanton Dodge, EVP and general counsel at Dish, said the decision has far-reaching significance because it is the first to apply the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Aereo TV to other technology.

Indeed, the Supreme Court ruling was not an indictment of Aereo’s technology that enabled users to stream live and on-demand TV programing on portable devices. Rather, the court found that Aereo violated copyright law by illegally capturing broadcast signals without paying for them.

“Dish is pleased that the [District Court] has again sided with consumers by issuing a summary judgment decision upholding their rights under U.S. copyright law. We will continue to vigorously defend consumers’ rights to choice and control over their viewing experience,” Dodge said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Fox expressed disappointment in Gee’s ruling, and that the Aereo ruling didn’t buttress its case. Regardless, the judge did allow Fox to continue its breach of contract claims against Dish.

“This case is not, and has never been, about consumer rights or new technology,” Fox said in a statement. “It’s always been about protecting creative works from being exploited without permission.”


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