Fox asks California court to stop Dish commercial-killer services

Dish Network believes consumers should have the option to watch recorded television programs without commercial interruption. Fox Broadcasting says Dish’s policy has breached the network’s rebroadcasting contract and is a massive scale, night-after-night copyright infringement.

Fox wants a California court to force Dish to shut down its PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop services, which allow viewers to pay extra to edit the content of recorded TV programs. Fox is fuming because the digital video recorder services let consumers skip over commercials that are integral parts of Fox’s advertising commitments and revenue.

Dish executives have asked a separate court to alter how its DVR services are offered. Dish proposes to make the AutoHop and PrimeTime Anytime features optional instead of automatic, which would place the responsibilities for program recording, timing and commercial editing in customers’ hands.

Attorneys for Fox say the move is a camouflage to hide that Dish was guilty of infringing Fox copyrights. The network cites a 2002 licensing agreement and a 2010 contract amendment with Dish.

The contract apparently gives Dish permission to retransmit television programs but does not allow commercial fast-forwarding during playback. Fox contends that Dish broke its contract.

A California court has already given Fox permission to move forward with the lawsuit. The network filed for a preliminary injunction to stop Dish from continuing to offer the commercial-editing DVR services.

Dish is defending its position, saying its DVR services represent freedom of consumer choice. The case could come down to the wording in a business licensing contract.

Source: hollywoodreporter.com, “Fox Asks for Injunction to Shut Down Dish Ad-Skipper,” Eriq Gardner, Aug. 23, 2012