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Court Hands Another Victory to Dish Over Ad-Skipping Feature

U.S. District Judge Laura Swain refused to issue an injunction to bar Dish Network from offering its subscribers a feature that automatically records primetime programming en masse and automatically clips ads from broadcast shows.

Her ruling, issued Wednesday, is another victory for Dish Network in litigation filed by the broadcast networks. In California, a federal judge also refused to issue a preliminary injunction against the service. The satcaster also won an appeal before the 9th Circuit in July.

Swain will not make her written ruling public until confidential material can be redacted.

“This decision is yet another victory for American consumers, and we are proud to have stood by their side in this important fight over the fundamental rights of consumer choice and control,” said R. Stanton Dodge, Dish’s executive vice president and general counsel.

Dish’s PrimeTime Anytime feature lets subscribers record shows on the four broadcast networks and save them for up to eight days. An AutoHop feature allows subscribers to then watch certain shows with the commercials removed.

The networks argue that the recording violates copyrights and, in certain cases, agreements with Dish restricting the availability of on-demand programming.

ABC was the plaintiff in the New York case. The networks first sued Dish in May 2012.

Swain did deny Dish’s motion to throw out a portion of a suit filed by CBS, a claim of fraudulent concealment. CBS contends that Dish should have disclosed details of its plans for a Hopper service as they renegotiated a retransmission agreement in December.

A spokeswoman for ABC said that the ruling “is only a preliminary decision and the first step in the judicial process. We continue to firmly believe that Dish’s AutoHop and PrimeTime Anytime services breach our retransmission consent agreement with Dish, infringe upon ABC’s copyrights and unfairly compete with the authorized on-demand and commercial-free options currently offered by ABC and its licensees.”

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