Judge Sends Dish Ad-Skipping Dispute to California, Where Broadcasters Want It

Dish Says Precedent Still Favors 'The Hopper'

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Dish Network has lost its bid to handle the legal dispute over its ad-skipping technology, dubbed "The Hopper," in New York. A federal judge ruled instead that the broadcasters suing Dish -- CBS, NBC and Fox -- can pursue their claims in Los Angeles.

U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan granted a motion by News Corp.'s Fox network to dismiss Dish's copyright and contract claims in her court over the Auto Hop, as well as Dish's copyright claims against CBS and NBC, saying they should be argued in California.

The venue for the dispute has been a point of contention since Dish Network filed a lawsuit in New York just hours before Fox and other TV networks filed in Los Angeles. Dish got a temporary restraining order that prevented Fox from proceeding with its own case in California.

New York is believed to be a more favorable location for Dish Network because of a 2008 ruling that said pay-TV providers may offer digital video-recording services to their customers without being held liable for copyright infringement.

Ms. Swain did rule in favor of allowing to Dish to present its claims against Walt Disney's ABC in New York. ABC is the only big broadcaster who has yet to file suit against Dish's Auto Hop.

Dish said it believed precedent remained on its side.

"Regardless of the venue, we look forward to proceeding with this case, recognizing that it has been 28 years since the Supreme Court's 'Betamax' decision held that a viewer, in the privacy of their home, could record a television show to watch later," Dish Network's exec VP and general counsel, R. Stanton Dodge, said in a statement. "The court ruled that 'time-shifting' constituted a fair use of copyrighted television programming. Those Betamax users could permissibly fast-forward through commercials on recorded shows -- just as DVR users do today. Dish will stand behind consumers and their right to skip commercials, something they have been doing since the invention of the remote control."

Fox, however, said it was happy with the ruling.

"We are pleased that the court has determined that Fox, as the true victim and plaintiff here should have the right to proceed in its chosen forum in the 9th Circuit," Fox said in a statement. "Now we move on to the real issue at hand -- demonstrating that Dish Network has created and marketed a product with the clear goal of breaching its license with Fox, violating copyrights and destroying the fundamental underpinnings of the broadcast television business -- which damages not only Fox and the other major networks, but also the hundreds of local stations around the country. We look forward to trying and winning the case on its merits."

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