UPDATE, 3:35 PM: DISH Network released the following statement today in regards to the court ruling denying Fox’s request for a preliminary injunction against DISH’s ad-skipping Autohop and Primetime Anywhere features:
Today’s ruling is a victory for common sense and customer choice. 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. 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, including the reasonable right to skip commercials, if they so choose. We look forward to vigorously defending AutoHop and Primetime Anytime, and the choice and control those features deliver our subscribers. – DISH Executive Vice President and General Counsel, R. Stanton Dodge
PREVIOUSLY, 1:59 PM: A U.S. District Court judge yesterday denied Fox’s request for a preliminary injunction that would shut down Dish Network’s ad-skipping AutoHop and Primetime Anytime features, Deadline has confirmed. However, Judge Dolly Gee did agree with Fox that Dish has likely committed copyright infringement and broken the contract between the two companies in making copies of Fox programming for alleged quality assurance. The ruling was sealed so both sides could redact confidential trade information. Notice of the ruling appeared on the court docket today. Fox had the following statement on the ruling:
The court denied Fox’s request for a preliminary injunction. But 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. We intend to appeal that portion of the court’s decision, as well as the court’s separate findings concerning the PrimeTime Anytime service. DISH is marketing and benefitting from an unauthorized VOD service that illegally copies FOX’s valuable programming.
The decision on the broadcaster’s petition comes after the parties argued their respective points of view in front of Gee on September 21. Introduced in May by Dish, AutoHop allows subscribers to leap past commercials in programs that have been recorded off network TV the day before. CBS, NBC and Fox have all filed copyright infringement suits against Dish to get the service stopped.
Dish’s lawyers have argued that part of the problem is Fox and other broadcasters are resisting new technology just the way the VCR and later the DVR were initially resisted by the industry. 20th Century Fox Films Corp and Fox Television Holdings’ lawyer argued in documents filed August 22 (read them here) that the product is in “violation of the express terms and conditions of its contracts with Fox and federal copyright law.” Fox is represented by Richard Stone, Andrew Thomas and David Singer of LA firm Jenner & Block. Annette Hurst and Peter Bicks of from San Francisco’s Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe represent Dish Network.