Judge Sides With Dish, Allowing Ad-Skipping Technology7 Nov, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Fox Broadcast says ruling leaves open possibility Dish’s controversial DVR is liable for copyright infringement
A Los Angeles District Court Judge Nov. 7 denied an injunction motion by Fox Broadcasting to ban Dish Network from marketing a digital video recorder featuring technology that allows users to automatically skip commercials on primetime programing.
Dish’s Whole-Home Hopper DVR and PrimeTime Anytime platform includes the “AutoHop” feature allowing users to skip commercials on more than 15 hours of recorded network programming by simply pushing a button.
Fox is among several TV networks that have filed lawsuits against the satellite operator claiming AutoHop violates retransmission agreements and content copyrights, among other claims.
Judge Dolly Gee’s court order is under seal, but both Dish and Fox issued statements on the ruling with their respective comments and spins.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for common sense and customer choice,” said R. Stanton Dodge, EVP and general counsel with Dish. “The ruling underscores the U.S. Supreme Court’s ‘Betamax’ decision, with the court confirming a consumer’s right to enjoy television as they want, when they want, including the reasonable right to skip commercials, if they so choose.”
Fox said it was “gratified” the court found the recorded programming facilitated by AutoHop constituted copyright infringement and breach the parties’ contract. Specifically, Fox contends that by stripping commercials from its recorded programming, AutoHop represents an unauthorized form of video-on-demand.
“We are disappointed the court erred in finding that Fox’s damages were not suitable for a preliminary injunction,” the network said in a statement. “We intend to appeal that portion of the court’s decision, as well as the court’s separate findings concerning the Primetime Anytime service.”
Dish contends customers using PrimeTime Anytime cannot be liable for copyright infringement. It said video copies made using the Hopper’s PrimeTime Anytime feature do not infringe on Fox’s exclusive reproduction rights under federal copyright law.
The satellite TV operator said AutoHop does not violate the video-on-demand provisions of the 2010 retransmission consent agreement between Fox and Dish. It added that Fox has not established that is has suffered “irreparable harm” as a result of Dish making the quality assurance copies.
“We look forward to vigorously defending AutoHop and Primetime Anytime, and the choice and control those features deliver our subscribers,” he said.