The Legal Battle Begins Over Dish's Ad-Skipping DVR

As was predicted when Dish Network announced its Hopper DVR would allow users to skip commercials on recorded prime-time network TV shows, the so-called “holy grail for TV viewers” has ended up in court, with both sides racing to sue each other.

There are actually four separate lawsuits going on over the matter, with Fox, NBC, and CBS each filing separate copyright violation lawsuits in a U.S. District Court in California yesterday — while in New York, Dish filed a suit of its own against these broadcasters and ABC asking the court to declare that its Auto Hop technology does not violate the network’s copyrights.

In its lawsuit, Dish argues that Auto Hop “complies with Dish’s bargained-for contractual rights with the major television networks and the copyright laws of the U.S.”

Auto Hop actually requires that Dish record and process each of the prime-time shows before customers have access to the ad-skipping feature; this is why users must wait several hours before Auto Hop kicks in.

But in its lawsuit, Fox says it “has not consented to the recording of its copyrighted programs by Dish, or to the distribution by Dish to its subscribers of all of Fox’s prime-time programming for subsequent on-demand, commercial-free viewing.”

In addition to the courtroom battles, networks are fighting against the Dish DVR — which allows customers to completely skip over ad breaks on shows recorded on NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox during prime-time viewing hours — by refusing to air ads for the satellite service.

Networks Sue Dish Over Its New Ad-Skipping DVR [WSJ.com]