/// TV Nets Sue Dish Over Auto Hop

May 24, 2012  |  Media Week

You could see the lawsuits coming the second Dish Network announced Auto Hop, a feature that allows viewers to skip commercials entirely when they play a program back on their DVRs. Fox Broadcasting Co., CBS and NBCUniversal filed separate suits today against the satellite TV service, alleging that Dish violated copyrights and breached retransmission consent agreements. The TV network suits were filed in the U.S. District Court for the central district of California. In response, Dish counter sued ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC in the U.S. District Court for the southern district of New York, asking for a declaratory judgment that Auto Hop does not infringe on copyrights and is in agreement with its carriage contracts. The networks are seeking injunctive relief and compensatory and statutory damages. “We were given no choice but to file suit against one of our largest distributors, Dish Network, because of their surprising move to market a product with the clear goal of violating copyrights and destroying the fundamental underpinnings of the broadcast television ecosystem. Their wrongheaded decision requires us to take swift action in order to aggressively defent the future of free, over-the-air television,” Fox said in a statement. Fox claims its carriage agreement with Dish does not allow Fox to retransmit in real-time Fox broadcast programming, nor does it allow Dish without a license to make its own copy of programming and distribute a commercial-free version. CBS is making similar claims. “This service takes existing network content and modifies it in a manner that is unauthorized and illegal. We believe this is a clear violation of copyright law and we intend to stop it,” CBS said in a statement. “Dish simply does not have the authority to tamper with the ads from broadcast replays on a wholesale basis for its economic and commerical advantage,” added NBCUniversal in a statement.

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