Fox denied injunction against Dish ad-skipping service

Fox has suffered a big setback in its attempts to block Dish Network’s ad-skipping digital video recorder, with a judge rejecting a preliminary injunction against the company.

Dish’s PrimeTime Anytime feature allows users to record primetime shows on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and save them for up to eight days.

AutoHop then allows them to play back certain PrimeTime Anytime recordings without the commercials, starting the day after broadcast.

“Dish is gratified that the Court has sided with consumer choice and control by rejecting Fox’s efforts to deny our customers access to PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop – key features of the Hopper Whole-Home DVR,” says Dish executive vice president and general counsel, R Stanton Dodge.

“The ruling underscores the US 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.”

Judge Dolly Gee of the California District Court, concluded that Dish customers using PrimeTime Anytime aren’t, as Fox has claimed, liable for copyright infringement, and that copies made using the Hopper’s PrimeTime Anytime feature don’t infringe on Fox’s exclusive reproduction rights.

Neither the AutoHop commercial-skipping feature nor the PrimeTime Anytime feature constitutes unauthorized distribution, and AutoHop doesn’t violate the Video-On-Demand provisions of the 2010 retransmission consent agreement (RTC) between Fox and Dish.

While she did conclude that it was likely that copies of Fox programs made by Dish as part of its ‘quality assurance’ of AutoHop’s functionality do violate the RTC between Dish and Fox, as well as Fox’s exclusive reproduction rights, she said Fox had failed to establish that it has suffered irreparable harm as a result.

Fox will appeal the decision.