Broadcasters appeal to 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on AutoHop


Dish NetworkA federal judge declined to side immediately with the broadcasters, so they appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Fox, CBS and NBC are claiming a major threat to its business model and are urging a federal appeals court to order Dish Network to shutter its DVR service because it allows automatic skipping of commercials breaking copyright law and retransmission agreements.

The Dish Network litigation concerns the March introduction of what the satellite company calls PrimeTime Anytime, which allows customers to record and store about a week’s worth of prime-time broadcast television. Dish has enabled playback of those archives without users seeing commercials.

Dish claims the technology is legal and falls under a U.S. Supreme Court decision authorizing home video recording in a classic case known as “Sony Betamax” decided in 1982. But in their appeal to the San Francisco-based appeals court, the broadcasters claim otherwise, saying that television viewers of the past had to physically fast-forward and “guess” when a commercial has passed.

Now, that’s not the case, Wired reported the broadcasters as saying.

“AutoHop eliminates entire commercial breaks automatically without any guesswork. It is designed and marketed so that 100% of AutoHop users see no commercials — a result far different from the blind fast-forwarding done by Betmaax users in the late 1970s,” the broadcasters said.

The Dish DVR service records a day’s prime time lineup from ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and stores up to 100 hours of those shows for up to eight days — all without the broadcasters’ consent.

In their original suit filed in May, the networks warned that, if the courts don’t block the service, it “will ultimately destroy the advertising-supported ecosystem that provides consumers with the choice to enjoy free over-the-air, varied, high-quality prime time broadcast programming.”

Dish maintains that its subscribers may “choose for themselves” the content they wish to watch.

See the Wired story here