Judge Extends Stay on Fox-Dish Litigation Until Jan. 15

A federal judge has extended a stay in Fox and Dish Network’s litigation over Dish’s AutoHop service, giving both sides more time to reach a settlement.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee extended the stay through Jan. 15, although she suggested that she would not extend it any further.

Earlier this year, Fox and Dish attorneys said they believe “a stay of all litigation would promote a settlement of the case.” But they were unable to come to terms in the case before Oct. 1, the previous deadline.

Broadcasters challenged Dish Network’s new Hopper DVR features in lawsuits filed in 2012, including one, AutoHop, that automatically skips over ads for subscribers. The agreement reportedly expires before year’s end. But ABC and CBS settled their litigation against Dish as they sought to renew carriage agreements. Fox and Dish said earlier this year in a court filing that their agreement expires on Oct. 29, although it is unclear if that is still the deadline.

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 has 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.

In a ruling unsealed in January, Gee wrote that Dish’s offering of AutoHop and another feature, Dish Anywhere, that 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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