Fox, Dish Settle Lawsuit Over Ad-Skipping, Other Features

Fox Broadcasting and Dish Network have settled their lawsuit over Dish’s AutoHop service, ending years of litigation over the technology that includes automatic ad skipping.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but in a joint statement, the companies said that Dish’s AutoHop commercial skipping feature would not be available for Fox stations until seven days after a program airs.

The sides filed papers to dismiss the case in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Wednesday. A settlement had been expected for months, after the parties asked for a stay of the case to give them time to work on a resolution.

“Fox Networks Group and Dish Network LLC have reached an agreement resulting in the dismissal of all pending litigation between the two companies, including disputes over Slingbox technology and the AutoHop, PrimeTime Anytime and Transfers features,” the companies said.

Broadcasters challenged Dish Network’s new Hopper DVR features in lawsuits filed in 2012, including one, AutoHop, that automatically skips over ads for subscribers. But ABC and CBS settled their litigation against Dish as they sought to renew carriage agreements.

Fox claimed that Dish Hopper features, such as Primetime Anytime, in which entire nights of programming are automatically recorded for subscribers, violate its copyright as well as carriage contracts.

Fox had also argued that Dish’s PrimeTime Anytime service violates a contract with Dish that prohibits them from offering Fox content on video-on-demand.

Dish, on the other hand, has said the function works like a DVR, with the consumer making the copy, not the company.

Last year, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee wrote that Dish’s offering of AutoHop and another feature, Dish Anywhere, which allows subscribers to watch live broadcasts remotely, does not violate copyright law.

She sided with Fox in concluding that some of the Dish features, like Hopper Transfers, which enables users to download shows on mobile devices, violated its contract agreements with the broadcaster that restrict copying of programming for use outside the home. She also found fault with Dish’s quality assurance copying of Fox programming, ruling that it violated Fox’s exclusive right of reproduction.

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