CEA Friends Dish's Hopper
Lobby says Betamax applies
January 28, 2013
ARLINGTON, VA. – Let stand the Hopper, the Consumer Electronics Association
said in an amicus brief filed in federal court. The CEA, along with the Computer
and Communications Industry Association and the Internet Association, filed a
joint amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in
support of the Hopper, a set-top box from Dish Network that can be programmed
to automatically skip commercials on recorded, prime-time broadcast network
programming. Broadcast networks are suing Dish on the grounds of copyright
“CEA believes that the Dish Hopper [digital video recorder] is fully covered by
the Supreme Court’s ruling in Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios
Inc. ” the CEA said. “As the
brief states, ‘Recording for personal, private viewing does not infringe; nor
does declining to watch commercials.”
Sony essentially ruled that
time-shifting in the home—recording a show on videotape and watching it later—did
not constitute a copyright violation. It was ruled in 1984. By 2008, recorders
were digital, and Cartoon Network went after Cablevision on copyright grounds for
introducing a set-top that allowed digital recording and remote storage.
Cablevision also prevailed.
CBS, Fox and NBCU all filed lawsuits in a California federal court, while Dish
countersued in the New York court that ruled in favor of Cablevision in 2008.
However, the judge in the New York court found Dish’s filing “improperly
anticipatory,” since it was filed within 24 hours of news leaking that networks
intended to file. Consequently, the cases are being heard in the U.S.
District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, which
denied Fox’s request for a preliminary injunction. Fox appealed the decision in
the Ninth circuit, where CEA filed it’s friends’ brief.
“With this lawsuit,” CEA chief Gary Shapiro said in a statement, “the Hopper
joins the Betamax in the long list of products that entrenched industries have
insisted would harm them. In reality, the VCR, the DVR, the SlingBox and other
innovative consumer technology products have expanded the market for content
and presented ninja content innovators with new business opportunities.”
The CEA also sided with Aereo on the basis of the Sony Betamax case. Aereo is
the New York-based startup using individual antennas in large arrays to deliver
broadcast signals to mobile devices. Broadcasters also are suing Aereo on the
basis of copyright violation. Aereo has likened its service to Cablevision’s
DVR, but Cablevision filed an amicus brief in favor of broadcasters in that
Separately, CBS has amended its complaint against Dish for failing to disclose
the ad-skipping function of the Hopper during the most recent round of
retransmission consent negotiations. CBS is asking the court to void that
~ Deborah D. McAdams
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