Fox Claims that Dish Network’s Ad Skipping is Copyright Infringement

By Joseph Mandour on January 31, 2015

satellite-dishLos Angeles – Prime features of any cable DVR is the ability to pause live television and fast forward through commercials. In addition to this, several DVR makers are offering their customers the ability to automatically skip over commercials.

Dish Network’s “Hopper” Package allows customers the chance to not only skip commercials and record an entire evening of shows, but also to access recorded programs from anywhere on their portable devices. Fox thinks that such features go too far and thus sought to limit these features in a copyright infringement claim against Dish.

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee recently ruled in Dish Network’s favor by stating that ad-skipping features and remote access do not constitute copyright infringement. However, Gee also noted that there are some aspects of the Dish features that violate its contract with Fox.

The contract between Fox and Dish restricts copying of any program from outside the home. Gee ruled that the “Hopper Transfers” feature provided by Dish as a violation of this agreement. This package would have allowed the user to download shows directly to their phones or tablets.

Dish fought back by claiming that it’s “PrimeTime Anytime” simply allows one to access a program that has already been downloaded to their DVR and thus would not represent a copyright infringement.

In an attempt to support their case, Fox compared the Dish disagreement with the recent Aereo landmark case. However, Gee noted differences between the two cases. Dish customers are simply gaining access to their own DVR in their home, whereas Aereo streamed directly to the customer.

This is not the first time Dish Network has fought for rights relating to its services. Vice-President R. Stanton Dodge stated that the network is “proud to have stood by [the consumers] side in this important fight over fundamental rights of consumer choice and control.”

A spokesperson for Fox stated that the disagreement is not about consumer rights with regard to new technology. Rather, it is about protecting creative rights from becoming a copyright infringement.

In another battle, Dish Network recently modified its contracts with CBS and ABC by limiting the ad-skipping feature. It is only available for seven days after the show aired for CBS and three days for ABC.

Fox has been pleased that Dish is reviewing and limiting its Hopper package and believes that it can come to further agreements with Dish in the future.

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