California Judge Issues Ad-Zap Lawsuit Restraining Order
Without an actual resolution in place, it's at least become clearer just which judge will make the first moves shaping a lawsuit targeting Dish Network and its newest DVR model.
Deadline reported Wednesday that U.S. District Court Judge Laura Swain has issued a temporary restraining order commanding that NBC Universal, CBS and Fox hold off furthering their California copyright infringement and breach of contract suits against Dish Network until her July 2 hearing.
The aggressive network tactics have been in response to Dish Network's March roll-out of its newest DVR boasting an Auto-Hop feature that permits recording while skipping commercial breaks with the push of a button. The application doesn't permit watching a recorded program without commercials until 1 AM ET/PT the day following the recording. Unless the Auto-Hop button is pressed while the program records, the DVR records the ads as it would any other programming.
Dish Network last week asked that a New York District Court judge make a declaratory judgment legalizing the feature, an effort to beat the clock before the networks made their California filing.
"Dish looks forward to presenting its case and prevailing on the merits," Dish Network attorney R. Stanton Dodge said. A Fox representative countered, "We look forward to making our case in court against Dish for copyright infringement and breach of contract."
Dish has made some interesting claims, though none have thus far been backed by hard data. The cable provider has claimed network viewership has actually risen among the estimated 700,000 or so homes using the new device. Dish has also argued that the new DVR automates a manual DVR advantage that many clients already seize. Fair point.
Equally fair point: the networks argue that the DVR eliminates even the possibility some users will see the advertisements that advertisers pay them to air, thus destroying the financial foundation of broadcast television. A similar 2001 suit effectively derailed a similar product, called Replay TV.