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DISH Cheers Ruling On AutoHop, PrimeTime Anytime

Judge Dolly Gee of the United States District Court, Central District of California, today rejected Fox Broadcasting Company’s efforts to bar DISH subscribers from use of the PrimeTime Anytime TM and AutoHop TM features found on the pay-TV provider’s Hopper TM Whole-Home DVR.

The PrimeTime Anytime feature allows users to easily record the primetime shows on up to each of the four broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) and save them for up to eight days. The AutoHop feature allows users to play back certain PrimeTime Anytime recordings commercial-free, starting the day after broadcast.

A copy of the ruling denying Fox’s motion for preliminary injunction has not been publicly circulated because the Court is first giving the parties an opportunity to redact confidential trade information. The ruling relates to case CV 12-04529 DMG.

In the decision, Judge Gee found it likely that:

  • Contrary to Fox’s assertion, DISH customers using PrimeTime Anytime cannot be liable for copyright infringement;
  • Copies made using the Hopper’s PrimeTime Anytime feature do not infringe on Fox’s exclusive reproduction rights under federal copyright laws;
  • Neither the AutoHop commercial-skipping feature nor the PrimeTime Anytime feature constitutes unauthorized distribution under federal copyright laws;
  • AutoHop does not violate the Video-On-Demand provisions of the 2010 retransmission consent agreement (RTC) between Fox and DISH;
  • Copies of Fox programs that DISH makes as part of its “quality assurance” of AutoHop’s functionality likely violate the RTC between DISH and Fox, and likely violate Fox’s exclusive reproduction right under federal copyright laws, but;
  • Fox has not established that is has suffered irreparable harm as a result of DISH’s making the quality assurance copies.

The ruling enables the Company to continue to offer its subscribers the Hopper Whole-Home DVR with both the PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop features. DISH is reviewing today’s decision and assessing its impact, especially as it relates to the quality assurance process.

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