Judge Tentatively Rules in Favor of Dish in Fox’s AutoHop Challenge

A federal judge indicated a tentative decision that Dish Network isn’t violating copyright law in its offering of a service that allows subscribers to record primetime programs with commercials automatically deleted.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee’s tentative ruling in favor of Dish Network’s AutoHop features isn’t a surprise. She has sided with the company in previous court rulings as Fox challenged the legality of the service.

She did, however, say that Fox may have a claim for breach of contract over some of the copying functions of Dish’s services. Fox has argued that Dish’s Primetime Anytime service, in which entire nights’ worth of programming is automatically recorded for a subscriber, violates its contract agreement with Dish, which prohibits them from offering its content on video-on-demand.

Dish, on the other hand, has said that the function works like a DVR, and it’s the consumer making the copy, not the company. They have cited the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in the 1984 Sony Betamax case that allows for consumers to make personal copies of copyrighted programming.

Gee did indicate that she was leaning toward Fox when it came to Dish’s offering of an Anywhere feature that allows subscribers to use remote devices to watch live streams of broadcast programming. The Anywhere feature uses Sling technology. The Supreme Court in June ruled that Aereo was infringing on copyrights when it offered streams of broadcast programming via a system of remote antennas.

Gee and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had previously sided with Dish when Fox sought an injunction to halt the service.

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