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Fox cannot block Dish Network’s commercial-skipping technology

Court rules a copyright infringement case must be resolved first

Nobody wants to watch commercials, except maybe during the Super Bowl, and Dish Network Corp. knows that. Its Hopper digital video recorder (DVR) includes a feature called “AutoHop,” which allows the watcher to press a button and have the DVR automatically skip all commercials during a show.

As one might imagine, broadcasters did not much care for that, and CBS, Fox and NBC all filed lawsuits against Dish Network in May. Fox has now lost its bid to block AutoHop, because a copyright infringement lawsuit needs to be resolved first. Both Dish and Fox issued statements yesterday to that effect, though the ruling itself was filed under seal.

 “We are gratified the court found the copies Dish makes for its AutoHop service constitute copyright infringement and breach the parties’ contract,” Fox said in a statement. “We are disappointed the court erred in finding that Fox’s damages were not suitable for a preliminary injunction.”

Dish Network has drawn a comparison between these cases and a 1984 Supreme Court case that found using a Betamax videotape to record a television show did not constitute copyright infringement.

“[This] 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,” Dish Network General Counsel R. Stanton Dodge said in a statement.

Read more at Bloomberg Businessweek.


For more TV-related lawsuits on InsideCounsel, see below:

Dish Network settles with Cablevision and AMC, starts carrying AMC channels again

Racial discrimination case against “The Bachelor” dismissed

Illinois sues Samsung, LG and other electronics companies for price-fixing

FTC sues Dish Network for telemarketing calls

CBS drops suit against ABC over similar shows

CBS settles “Happy Days” suit

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