Sunday, July 29, 2012

Predictably, Dish Network alters AutoHop

Dish Network has made a series of software upgrades to its DVRs embedded with the "AutoHop" feature, that automatically removes all advertising from prime time broadcast TV network programming recorded using the DVR feature.

Subscribers now have the ability to choose which channels to record among the "Big Four" networks, where previously they were all automatically recorded.

Subscribers also can choose to delete programming off the hard drive at a time of their choosing, as opposed to accepting a default-delete date.
A third change switches the cursor default from "yes" to "no" when presented with the option to skip ads.
All those changes presumably are intended to bolster Dish Network's defense of its technology, as it faces major lawsuits from broadcasters who claim the AutoHop feature is a violation of their copyrights and also a breach of affiliate contracts Dish Network has signed with the broadcasters. 
The broadcaster challenges were entirely predictable. Whenever an upstart has challenged the over the air broadcast business model, there have been legal and regulatory challenges. In the mid-twentieth century, for example, broadcasters successfully convinced the Federal Communications Commission that some core cable TV industry values, such as offering out of market TV signals, were impermissible. 
Broadcasters and movie makers also challenged the legality of such devices as the video cassette recorder. So the challenge to the lawfulness of AutoHop was inevitable. 
That incumbent legal and regulatory resistance always is predictable when new technologies or business models pose a challenge to either communications or entertainment industry business models. 
Dish Network presumably hopes the changes will bolster the Dish Network argument that AutoHop only provides consumer choice and convenience, and does not constitute any sort of copyright infringement. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some coworkers at Dish talked me into getting the Hopper and as a customer I have never been happier. A few TV networks may be upset that I skip commercials with my Auto Hop feature but that does not make it illegal. I started jogging three times a week with all the extra time it has given me. As you said new technology has been challenged before so this was inevitable, but that is because this is the next evolution in TV. I just wonder how long it will take for other carriers to catch up.

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