Rendering what ultimately amounts to a setback to 21st Century Fox in licensing negotiations with Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH), a federal judge has ruled that Dish's mobile streaming and ad-skipping services do not infringe on broadcast network copyrights.
In a decision that was unsealed Tuesday, Los Angeles federal judge Dolly Gee on Jan. 12 rejected Fox's claims that Dish Anywhere, which lets Dish subscribers watch pay-TV on mobile devices, is the legal equivalent of Aereo, the streaming service that was struck down by the Supreme Court in June for retransmitting broadcast network feeds to IP devices without consent.
Gee ruled that Dish Anywhere's transmission method, which is based on Sling Media technology, is private and does not constitute a copyright violation.
"The ultimate function of Dish Anywhere is to transmit programming that is already legitimately on a user's in-home hardware to a user's internet-connected mobile device," Gee wrote.
Fox originally filed suit in 2012 over Dish's Primetime Anytime service, which automatically records every Big Four network show to DVR, and AutoHop, the service that lets users automatically watch these recordings without commercials. It later added a complaint relating to Dish Anywhere, joining CBS, among other networks, who were involved in similar litigation with Dish.
However, CBS recently settled its suit as part of a broad-reaching program licensing renewal with Dish. (The satellite operator no longer plies features like AutoHop for CBS shows.)
Fox and Dish, meanwhile, are currently in talks on a similarly scoped deal.
Dish's Hopper upgrade enables easier bingeing, lets users skip back to beginning of in-progress shows
Dish's new deal with CBS prohibits use of AutoHop DVR feature
Dish 'Primetime Anytime' doesn't infringe on broadcasters, judge tentatively rules