Fox and Dish Network Debate over DVR Copyright Infringement

By Joseph Mandour on January 25, 2013

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Los Angeles – Dish Network Corp. said in its brief to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that Fox Broadcasting Co. does not provide enough evidence that Dish Network is infringing Fox’s copyrights or breaching contracts between the companies by providing consumers with ad-skipping digital videos recorders.

Fox has been attempting to block Dish from being able to provide consumers with television services in combination with its DVR called the Hopper.  The Hopper allows consumers to utilize Dish’s PrimeTime Anytime service, which enables users to record a block of television shows and to AutoHop advertisements when watching the shows later.

The original trial in the California Central District Court took place in Los Angeles under U.S. District Judge George H. King.  Fox lost the trial and is now bringing the case to the Circuit Court of Appeals.  In its December 13th appeal, Fox asked for a preliminary injunction blocking Dish from offering DVRs with the PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop services.

“Dish’s unauthorized, commercial-free … service is anything but fair, and the need to enjoin it could not be greater.,”  Fox argued.  “[PrimeTime Anytime] and AutoHop cut the legs out from under the ad-supported broadcast television business model.”

Filed with the court on Thursday, Dish’s brief responds to Fox’s appeal and asked the court to uphold Judge King’s ruling.

Dish argued that in-home copying of television programs for private use constitutes fair use and therefore the DVRs do not infringe any copyrights.  Dish pointed to the argument large broadcasting companies made against the VCR back in the 1980s when broadcasters claimed “time-shifting and ad-skipping heralded the death of broadcast television” saying Fox’s claims against the DVR are just as ridiculous.

In addition, Dish claims that Fox has not shown any evidence that DVR use by consumers constitutes copyright infringements or has brought any financial harm to broadcasting companies, in fact Dish claimed the opposite.

“Despite widespread availability of time-shifting and ad-skipping devices, the networks are raking in record revenues,” Dish said.  “DVR households watch more TV — and more commercials — than non-DVR households.  There is no evidence that Hopper users are any exception.”

Fox responded to Dish’s brief in a public statement where it claimed Dish is attempting to influence consumers to purchase illegal goods that infringe on its copyrights.

“Dish is more concerned with its own bottom line than with protecting ad-supported broadcast television, which benefits millions of consumers every day,” the statement said.

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