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Fox Denied Request to Shut Down Dish DVR’s Place-Shifting Features

A federal court Monday denied Fox Broadcasting’s request to block two of the Dish Network’s Hopper DVR place-shifting features — although the judge indicated the broadcaster could prevail at trial.

For now, the decision marks another legal victory by the satcaster in its ongoing litigation with TV broadcasters.

Last week, Dish won a ruling in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld a lower court ruling denying a preliminary injunction to block the Hopper’s ability to automatically record primetime programming and let users set the DVR to skip ads. In that case, Fox and other broadcasters have argued that the AutoHop feature undermines their advertising business.

The ruling Monday by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California denied Fox’s preliminary injunction motion — filed in February — to block two features: Dish Anywhere, which lets Hopper users stream live or recorded TV to any device using embedded Slingbox technology; and Hopper Transfers, which loads content recorded on a DVR on an iPad for later viewing.

Fox had argued that the Dish Anywhere and side-loading features violate retransmission-consent agreements and infringe its copyrights.

In a statement, Fox said, “We disagree that the harms caused by Dish’s infringing services are completely compensable by damages, and as a result we are looking at all options. We will file a response in due course.”

“Dish is pleased that the Court has sided again with consumer choice and control by rejecting Fox’s efforts to deny our customers’ access to the Dish Anywhere and Hopper Transfers features,” Dish executive VP and general counsel R. Stanton Dodge said in a statement. “We will continue to vigorously defend consumers’ right to choice and control over their viewing experience.”

The decision has not been publicly circulated because the court is first giving the parties an opportunity to redact confidential trade information.

Dish noted that Sling technology has been available since 2005, and that Fox’s motion seeking to shut it down was the first of its kind. The satcaster (then called EchoStar Corp.) acquired Sling Media in 2007 for $380 million.

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