A Los Angeles federal judge has denied Fox's request for a preliminary injunction to stop satellite broadcaster Dish Network from offering its new commercial-skipping feature known as the AutoHop.
“Dish is gratified that the Court has sided with consumer choice and control by rejecting Fox’s efforts to deny our customers access to AutoHop," said R. Stanton Dodge, executive vice president and general counsel of Dish.
While the injunction was not granted, Fox said it didn't come away empty-handed. The company noted that U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee suggested she will entertain the network's argument that AutoHop violates copyright infringement.
"We are gratified the court found the copies Dish makes for its AutoHop service constitute copyright infringement and breach the parties’ contract," a Fox spokesperon said. Fox plans to appeal the sealed ruling on the preliminary injunction, a copy of which was obtained by the Hollywood Reporter.
Dish had a different interpretation and said the ruling means its customers are not liable for copyright infringement.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for common sense and customer choice," Dodge said.
Fox, CBS and NBC have all filed suits against Dish in an attempt to get rid of the AutoHop. Launched in May, the AutoHop is a feature on Dish's DVR that makes it easy to skip commercials on recorded shows from ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. The AutoHop only works on those four broadcast networks and not on any cable networks, even though the latter typically have far more commercials per show.
The AutoHop basically zaps the commercials from recorded shows. The screen goes dark during a commercial break for a few seconds, and then the show resumes.