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DISH’s Ad-Skipping Dispute Moves to California

18 Jul, 2012 By: Doug McPherson

NEW YORK – A federal judge says television broadcasters can purse their claims against the DISH Network’s ad-skipping technology in Los Angeles.

DISH had been attempting to handle the legal dispute over its ad-skipping technology, dubbed “The Hopper,” in New York, but U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain granted a motion by News Corp.’s Fox network (CBS and NBC have joined Fox in the action) to dismiss DISH’s copyright and contract claims in her court over The Hopper, as well as Dish’s copyright claims against CBS and NBC, saying they should be argued in California.

Some believe New York would have favored DISH because of a 2008 ruling that said pay-TV providers may offer digital video recording services to their customers without being held liable for copyright infringement.

The venue has been at issue since DISH filed a lawsuit in New York just hours before Fox and other TV networks filed in Los Angeles. DISH got a temporary restraining order that kept Fox from proceeding with its own case in California. Swain did allow DISH to present its claims against ABC in New York. ABC is the only major broadcast network that has yet to file suit against DISH’s ad skipper.

DISH officials contend precedent remains on their side. In a statement, DISH leaders write, “Regardless of the venue, we look forward to proceeding with this case, recognizing that it has been 28 years since the Supreme Court’s ‘Betamax’ decision held that a viewer, in the privacy of their home, could record a television show to watch later. The court ruled that ‘time-shifting’ constituted a fair use of copyrighted television programming. Those Betamax users could permissibly fast-forward through commercials on recorded shows – just as DVR users do today. DISH will stand behind consumers and their right to skip commercials, something they have been doing since the invention of the remote control.”

Fox officials say they’re happy with the venue change, according to a statement, adding, “Now we move on to the real issue at hand – demonstrating that DISH Network has created and marketed a product with the clear goal of breaching its license with Fox, violating copyrights and destroying the fundamental underpinnings of the broadcast television business – which damages not only Fox and the other major networks, but also the hundreds of local stations around the country. We look forward to trying and winning the case on its merits.”

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