Washington – Those who like to skip TV commercials and those making the devices that help them do it won a key court victory Wednesday. A New York southern District Judge dismissed an argument by ABC that DISH Network’s commercial hopping feature on the company’s DVR violated ABC’s copyright.
This victory comes on the heels of a federal appeals court ruling in July that blocked an attempt by Fox to cut off customer access to this same DISH commercial hopper. While DVRs have allowed customers to fast forward through commercials, the DISH device lets them skip the commercial altogether with the touch of a button.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association had filed an amicus brief in the Fox case, saying the plaintiffs’ “cramped view of fair use would hobble not just DVR technology, but also may threaten a wide range of new private copying technologies.” DISH is a member of CCIA.
“This whole issue is further proof that when incumbent companies try to trap customers and keep them from watching the content they want on the device they want, other innovators have room to enter the market to meet that customer demand. It will be important to watch for other attempts to use laws inappropriately to block innovation and new business models with DVRs as well other cloud computing innovations.”
For more background on this case, please see CCIA Public Policy & Regulatory Counsel Ali Sternburg’s blog post for DisCo on the issues behind an earlier lawsuit on the commercial hopping device: