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ABC Becomes Second Network to Seek Injunction Over DISH’s New Features

Updated on November 26, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, FOX’s attempt to seek an injunction against DISH for its new AutoHop and PrimeTime Anytime features, which were released earlier this year shortly after the introduction of their Hopper and Joey whole-home HD-DVR system, was rejected. The features, which allow a DISH customer to skip commercials on primetime shows the day after recording and record all 4 major networks’ programming 7 nights a week during primetime, respectively, have brought negative attention from the Big 4 Networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC) as executives feel they are a form of copyright infringement.

ABC Finds AutoHop and PrimeTime Anytime a Threat

Now, ABC has joined in the fight against the Hopper and Joey’s AutoHop and PrimeTime Anytime features by filing a separate preliminary injunction in a Manhattan federal court. ABC feels that the AutoHop and PrimeTime Anytime are a threat to their existence as broadcast networks as the features will dissuade advertisers from investing in their networks.

FOX Fails Attempt at Same Injunction

The recent rejection of a similar injunction request by FOX was made by Los Angeles judge Dolly Gee based on findings by the court that DISH’s services did not constitute copyright infringement. While the judge did acknowledge that there is likely a contract issue between the involved parties due to the new features, she also held that FOX cannot provide evidence of any major losses as a direct result of AutoHop and PrimeTime Anytime. FOX has appealed the ruling.

She based her final verdict on the premise that, “Although DISH defines some of the parameters of copying for time-shifting purposes, it is ultimately the user who causes the copy to be made.” This may be the factor that works in DISH’s best favor: the fact that the consumer is in control of the recording of programming and skipping of advertisements. Both features must be actively switched on by the viewer to be used.

What's next for DISH and The Big 4?

Despite the fact that FOX’s request was denied, it’s uncertain whether ABC’s attempt will suffer the same fate. The court proceedings will take place in Manhattan under presiding judge Laura Taylor Swain, who will consider many of the same concerns Judge Gee addressed in Los Angeles.

The litigation between The Big 4 and DISH will likely be lengthy and ongoing, as DISH began proceedings in May by suing ABC, CBS, and NBC to seek a judgment that their new features did not violate copyright laws or network contracts. FOX, CBS, and NBC struck back the same day, although ABC is the second (after FOX) to seek a preliminary injunction.

Do you think ABC will be granted the preliminary injunction?

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