Does Dish Network have the right to offer a commercial-free experience for its customers? Or does that infringe on broadcasters' copyrights?
As you might expect, CBS, NBC and Fox are not very happy at the prospect and filed suit yesterday against the TV provider to stop it from rolling out its "AutoHop" service.
The service, which works with a digital video recorder, automatically skips over commercials for programming from the four major broadcast networks. As the AP reports, Dish says the service has seen a "groundswell of support from consumers."
But, as CNN Money reports, CBS, NBC and Fox issued a "damning court filing" in which it "chastised Dish Network for its 'bootleg broadcast video on-demand service' that makes 'an unauthorized copy' of the entire primetime broadcast schedule. Fox said AutoHop 'will ultimately destroy the advertising-supported ecosystem.'"
Mashable notes that Dish defended itself by filing a countersuit asking a court for an all-clear to launch and also said in a statement that consumers "should be able to fairly choose for themselves what they do and do not want to watch"
In a statement Fox told Mashable that it "had no choice but to file suit."
Today, The Los Angeles Times' Jon Healey weighed in on the legal side of it all. Healey says that in order to keep "AutoHop" off the market, it "may have to persuade a federal judge to roll back the precedent the Supreme Court set in 1984 when it declared Sony's Betamax video recorder to be a legal product."
At issue here will be whether Dish is considered to be doing the recording or whether the customer is the one doing it. Healey says the service prompts, the customer is the one who decides to record.