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21 January 2015Copyright

“Victory for consumers” as Dish secures copyright win against Fox

Satellite TV provider Dish has secured a win in its long-running copyright battle against US broadcaster Fox, in what has been called a victory for consumers.

The ruling, from the US District Court for the Central District of California, was unsealed yesterday (January 20) having originally been issued on January 12.

Judge Dolly Gee found that Dish’s Anywhere service, which lets subscribers watch live TV on mobile devices, did not infringe Fox’s copyright.

Fox argued that the service “publicly performed” the broadcaster’s copyrighted works, in the same way as online TV streaming service Aereo had been accused of by Fox and others in a separate suit. Aereo was ruled illegal by the US Supreme Court in June last year.

The California court disagreed with Fox, finding that the Dish Anywhere service does not need to pay a licence fee for the initial re-transmission of programmes to users via satellite.

Oral arguments were heard in October last year.

Gee’s decision said: “Aereo streamed a subscriber-specific copy of its programming from Aereo’shard drive to the subscriber’s screen via individual satellite when the subscriber requested it, whereas Dish Anywhere can only be used by a subscriber to gain access to her own home [set top box] and the authorised recorded content on that box.”

Fox’s motion for partial summary judgment that Dish was infringing its copyright with the Anywhere service was denied.

It is believed to be the first time the Aereo decision has been applied to another case.

R. Stanton Dodge, Dish’s vice president and general counsel, said that the company was pleased with the decision.

“Consumers are the winners today, as the court sided with them on the key copyright issues in this case,” he added. “We will continue to vigorously defend consumers’ rights to choice and control over their viewing experience.”

Fox sued Dish in 2012, accusing it of infringing copyright and breaching its contract with the broadcaster by offering a device that allows customers to set a timer to record prime-time programmes and automatically skip the advertisements.

The Californian district court denied Fox’s susequent motion to stop Dish from selling the devices. Fox appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

By 2013, Fox had added more of the devices offered by Dish to its complaint, including Dish Anywhere, and filed another motion for a preliminary injunction at the district court. After this was also denied, Fox appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which affirmed both district court decisions.

In August 2014, Fox moved for partial summary judgment on its claims of copyright infringement and breach of contract, which were considered in this ruling.

Fox could not be reached for comment.

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