A couple of weeks ago, Dish Network unveiled and released a new technology which automatically does what we all do anyways. Skip commercials. The Hopper is the kind of technology that can make people switch from the highly superior DirecTV. Basically it allows you to skip commercials from any of the major networks (FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC).
Now most of those TV channels are not happy and have all filed individual lawsuits agains Dish Network.
Fox filed on the 24th of May on behalf of Fox Broadcasting, 20th Century Fox Film Corp. and Fox Television Holdings for copyright infringement and breach of contract. They also issued this statement: “We were given no choice but to file suit against one of our largest distributors, Dish Network, because of their surprising move to market a product with the clear goal of violating copyrights and destroying the fundamental underpinnings of the broadcast television ecosystem. Their wrongheaded decision requires us to take swift action in order to aggressively defend the future of free, over-the-air television.”
NBCUniversal also filed on behalf of NBC Studios, Universal Network Television, Open 4 Business Productions and NBC Universal Media, claims copyright infringement and inducement of copyright infringement. They issued this statement: “NBC has filed suit against this unlawful service in order to keep over-the-air broadcast television a strong competitor. Advertising generates the revenue that makes it possible for local broadcast stations and national broadcast networks to pay for the creation of the news, sports and entertainment programming that are the hallmark of American broadcasting. Dish simply does not have the authority to tamper with the ads from broadcast replays on a wholesale basis for its own economic and commercial advantage.”
THere is no info about the suit that CBS has filed, but It is probably around the same thing. They did release a statement though: “This service takes existing network content and modifies it in a manner that is unauthorized and illegal. We believe this is a clear violation of copyright law and we intend to stop it.”
In response, Dish Network has filed a counter suit asking the courts for a declaratory judgment of whether the ad-skipping technology complies with copyright law. “Consumers should be able to fairly choose for themselves what they do and do not want to watch,” Dish senior vp programming David Shull said in a statement. “Viewers have been skipping commercials since the advent of the remote control; we are giving them a feature they want and that gives them more control.”
This case could have a big impact on broadcast television going forward. Also it could have a huge impact on streaming shows, so we will keep an eye on this case and let you know if there are any big stories that come from it.