Dish Hopper Ruling

A ccording to the LA Times, earlier this month, District Judge Dolly M. Gee, ruled in favor of the Dish Network’s implementation of several program recording tools. In 2012 and 2013, Dish unveiled four different mechanisms for recording shows–Dish Hopper, Prime Time Anytime, AutoHop, and Hopper Transfers. While the case originally named several large networks as plaintiffs, most settled their claims. However, Fox Broadcasting pushed forward. Last week, Judge Gee’s ruling was released. In that ruling, she found that there was a distinction between consumers initiating their own recordings on devices within their homes, and service providers creating recordings off-site. She found Dish’s customers initiated the recordings, and were the only individuals viewing these copies at a later time. Thus, Dish did not infringe on the networks’ copyrights.

This case is distinguished from Aereo, according to Gee, because in Aereo, the subscriber accessed the program from Aereo’s remote hard drive; whereas, in the present case, Dish’s recordings are located on a Dish customer’s device in his home. Nevertheless, Fox had success with one breach of contract claim–that Dish used its programs to test its recording services, contrary to the terms of their contract. This small victory likely will result in the inclusion of similar clauses in future contracts. Ultimately, the ruling may open the door for other recording services that content providers hoped Aereo had prevented.

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