A crucial ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has confirmed that a major TV network cannot use copyright to limit consumer choice.
Last year, FOX sued Dish Networks for it’s “Hopper” DVR which allowed users to automatically skip over commercials. The lawsuit is one of many in which content owners have attempted to curtail the features on personal electronic devices.
Unfortunately this effort has been and remains unsuccessful. In November, the district refused to enjoin Dish’s operation and the court found that Dish cannot be held directly liable for the conduct of its customers.
Additionally, Dish can’t be held liable indirectly either because time-shifting is a protected fair use and networks cannot challenge commericial skipping because they don’t have a copyright interest in the commercials themselves.
Fox appealed the ruling in the Ninth Circuit, only to strike out yet again. The Ninth Circuit firmly rejected Fox’s claim, agreeing with the district court that because networks have no copyright claims without owning the ads.
While the legal battle isn’t over yet, it’s a step in the right direction for technology.