AutoHop Case Will Hop to California

California venue preferred by broadcasters

A federal judge in New York gave broadcasters their first win in the legal battle over Dish Network's AutoHop service by ruling that the case should be tried in California as requested by Fox, CBS, and NBC.

Broadcasters went ballistic over AutoHop, a service that lets Dish subscribers automatically skip commercials when they play back programs on their DVRs. The TV networks responded by filing suit May 24 against Dish in the U.S. District Court for the central district of California. Dish pre-empted the four TV networks that same day with a countersuit in the U.S. District Court of the southern district of New York, setting up a battle over venue.

Dish wanted the case to be tried in New York where a previous case involving DVRs could give AutoHop legal precedent.

Broadcasters will argue that no less than the business of ad-supported television is at stake. "Now we move on to the real issue at hand, demonstrating that Dish Network has created and marketed a product with the clear goal of breaching its license with Fox, violating copyrights and destroying the fundamental underpinnings of the broadcast television business, which damages not only Fox and the other major networks, but also the hundreds of local stations around the country. We look forward to trying and winning the case on its merits," Fox Networks said in a statement.

In a recent hearing before the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen was defiant, arguing that the service does nothing more than "improve upon existing, legally-accepted, and widely available technologies."

ABC did not bring any claims in California and will therefore proceed against Dish in New York.