Fox loses bid to block Dish’s AutoHop


Judge Dolly Gee of the U.S. District Court in LA on Monday struck down (11/5) the preliminary injunction request by Fox Broadcasting. Gee determined that Fox was unlikely to be able to prove it suffered irreparable harm from the copies Dish made as a way to back up recordings on consumers’ DVRs.

Dish and the broadcast networks have been at odds over The Hopper, which enables consumers to record prime-time programming from the four broadcast networks — ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox — and play the video back the next day with the commercials stripped out.

Dish and Fox issued separate statements:

“”Dish is marketing and benefitting from an unauthorized VOD service that illegally copies Fox’s valuable programming. We are gratified the court found the copies Dish makes for its AutoHop service constitute copyright infringement and breach the parties’ contract. We are disappointed the court erred in finding that Fox’s damages were not suitable for a preliminary injunction.”

Wednesday’s ruling “is a victory for common sense and customer choice,” R. Stanton Dodge, general counsel for Dish, told Bloomberg News/Chicago Daily Herald. “The 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.”

Fox, NBC Universal and CBS separately sued Dish, claiming it will destroy the “advertising supported ecosystem” that provides free, over-the-air primetime television. Dish also sued the networks in New York, seeking a court ruling that it isn’t infringing copyrights.

Richard Stone, a lawyer for Fox, said at a 9/21 hearing that other distributors, including DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite-television provider, will be forced to follow suit if Dish’s ad-free primetime television service isn’t blocked.

Fox said it intends to appeal the judge’s denial of their request for a preliminary injunction.

See the Bloomberg News/Chicago Daily Herald story here