Dish Network and the company's Hopper DVR won another important round against the top broadcasters today. Judge Laura Swain of the Southern District of New York denied a request by ABC to ban the Hopper. The Hopper, the digital video recorder introduced to the public last year, enables people to automatically skip commercials. Not long after the device made its debut, the broadcasters and Dish began exchanging lawsuits, and the networks alleged that the technology violated their copyrights and Dish had breached its contracts.
"This decision is yet another victory for American consumers," Dish said a statement. "We are proud to have stood by their side in this important fight over the fundamental rights of consumer choice and control."
The networks have said that these features pose a threat to their survival
This is the third favorable federal court decision Dish has won regarding the Hopper. Unlike regular DVRs, the Hopper's AutoHop feature enables users to instantly jump past commercials with the push of a single button. No need to manually fast forward. The Hopper's PrimeTime Anytime feature enables users to record network shows and store them for eight days after their initial broadcast. The networks have said that these features pose a threat to their survival. If the commercials that accompany their shows aren't watched, then the networks' ad business collapses. A representative of Disney, ABC's parent company, was not immediately available.
Dish argued in court that it pays hundreds of millions of dollars per year for the right to retransmit the broadcasters' programming. All the Hopper does is enable people to watch what they want when they want, according to Dish. Many in the tech sector say that for cable and satellite providers to compete against internet challengers, improving the viewing experience could be a key factor.
Update: The court also refused Dish's request to prevent CBS from seeking to get out of its retransmission agreement with the satellite TV company. The fight will go on.