Dish Defends Legality of Slingbox

Satcaster Says Fox Didn't Challenge Time Shifting Technology Until Last Month

Dish Network is pushing back against Fox’s recent claim that its Hopper DVR violates copyright because it uses Slingbox technology, noting in a court filing late on Friday that the network waited seven years to challenge the technology.

“Fox slept while Dish and its competitors rolled out devices aimed at ‘space shifting’ — the ability to get away from the living room television and watch in other places,” Dish said in a filing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

Broadcasters are challenging Dish’s AutoHop feature, introduced last year, which offers entire nights worth of primetime content with commercials automatically skipped. When Dish offered new Sling features that added broadcast streams on the go, Fox amended its original complaint against Dish, claiming the additional offerings violate retransmission agreements and infringe on their copyrights.

But Dish says that Fox didn’t object when it previously offered Sling services, and pointed to a 2010 joint press release in which the companies touted a Dish DVR “with built-in Sling functionality.” Dish also notes that the law firm representing Fox in its suit against Aereo told an appellate court judge in November that Sling “would not be a public performance.” “Fox News declared Sling a ‘legitimate’ way to ‘watch any game’ and repeatedly promoted Sling products — including in its January 2013 run-up to the Super Bowl.”

“Consumers — not Dish — make the transmissions using Sling. Those transmissions are private and controlled. There is no infringement, the use is fair and in all events the seven-year-old copyright claim against Sling is barred by laches,” Dish said in the 44-page filing. The company says that Fox’s “knowing delay” in challenging Sling should prevent them from obtaining a preliminary injunction.

“The district court denied Fox’s prior attempt to deprive consumers of Hopper features and we believe that Fox’s second bite at the apple is likewise meritless,” said Dish’s exec VP and general counsel, R. Stanton Dodge.

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