Fox Broadcasting Co. lost a second bid to halt Dish Network Corp.’s AutoHop ad-skipping feature, as a California federal appeals court refused to overturn a lower-court ruling that allowed the service to continue.
U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles rejected Fox’s motion last year for a preliminary injunction against Dish and Fox appealed. Fox argued that its contract with Dish, a pay-TV provider, doesn’t allow services that skip commercials. Fox also claimed that its copyrights for TV programming are infringed by the feature.
“The district court did not abuse its discretion in holding that the broadcaster failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on its copyright infringement and breach of contract claims,” the appeals court said in its opinion today.
Fox Broadcasting, Comcast Corp.’s NBC and CBS Corp. sued Dish last year in California, claiming that the ad-skipping feature would diminish their revenue from advertising. Dish sued the broadcast networks in New York seeking a declaration that its ad-skipping service doesn’t infringe copyrights.
“We are disappointed in the court’s ruling, even though the bar to secure a preliminary injunction is very high,” Scott Grogin, a spokesman for Fox, said in an e-mail. “This is not about consumer choice or advances in technology. It is about a company devising an unlicensed, unauthorized service that clearly infringes our copyrights and violates our contract.”
The decision “is a victory for American consumers, and we are proud to have stood by their side in this important fight over the fundamental rights of consumer choice and control,” Stanton Dodge, Dish’s general counsel, said in a statement.
Fox Broadcasting is a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.
The appeal is Fox Broadcasting v. Dish Network, 12-57048, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Pasadena). The lower-court case is Fox Broadcasting v. Dish Network, 12-4529, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).