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Television The Courts

Court Upholds Ruling On Dish Network's 'Hopper' 248

Posted by samzenpus
from the hop-away dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's ruling in favor of Dish Network, allowing the company to continue forward with it ad-skipping "Hopper" technology. From the article: 'Last year, Fox Broadcasting Company, with the support of other broadcast networks, sued Dish for its "Hopper" DVR and its "Auto Hop" feature, which automatically skips over commercials. According to the Fox, the Hopper automatically records eight days' worth of prime time programming on the four major networks that subscribers can play back on request. Beginning a few hours after the broadcast, viewers can choose to watch a program without ads. As we observed when the it started, this litigation was yet another in a long and ignominious series of efforts by content owners to use copyright law to control the features of personal electronic devices, and to capture for themselves the value of new technologies no matter who invents them.'"
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Court Upholds Ruling On Dish Network's 'Hopper'

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  • Hey... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by msauve (701917) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @10:06PM (#44377001)
    This is about "broadcast" networks. They can't have their cake, and eat it, too. In exchange for getting use of public airwaves to make a profit, the public has a right to use what's broadcast.

    Next step - in what way is putting content on the public airwaves not placing it in the public domain?
    • This is about "broadcast" networks. They can't have their cake, and eat it, too. In exchange for getting use of public airwaves to make a profit, the public has a right to use what's broadcast.

      Difficulty level: Encrypted transmission and subscription required != "Public".

      Next step - in what way is putting content on the public airwaves not placing it in the public domain?

      Ah, copyright law. Let me explain this quickly... "This previously public broadcast, re-encoded, is now copyright me, all rights reserved for the next 150 years plus however long it takes me to die." Next question please. No really, that's pretty much how it works.

      • Re:Hey... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Obfuscant (592200) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @10:59PM (#44377387)

        Difficulty level: Encrypted transmission and subscription required != "Public".

        Which of the four major networks are broadcasting an encrypted signal that requires a subscription?

        Difficulty level: the four major networks want their signals when carried by Dish Network to be treated differently than what someone can receive OTA. Same content, different rules.

        "This previously public broadcast, re-encoded, is now copyright me,

        Dish Network is not claiming copyright on the content they "re-encode", the copyright stays with the originator. But the originator is looking for different rights depending on the transmission medium. Almost like trying to say "if you watch this program on channel 13-1 OTA you have the right to timeshift it, but if you watch it on 17-2 OTA you don't."

        • You don't have the right to re-broadcast something your received OTA.
          If Dish Network want to re-broadcast something, they need permission. If they want to alter it, creating a derivative work for commercial use, they need further permission.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Mr. Slippery (47854)

            If Dish Network want to re-broadcast something, they need permission. If they want to alter it, creating a derivative work for commercial use, they need further permission.

            I don't know how Dish works currently, but when I had their service the receiver hooked up to a antenna for OTA bradcast TV, separate from the satellite dish. Dish Network was not rebroadcasting it.

            And if fast-forwarding through a copy of some content that you possess (whatever its origin) is "creating a derivative work", then anyone u

            • Re:Hey... (Score:5, Interesting)

              by viperidaenz (2515578) on Thursday July 25, 2013 @02:59AM (#44378397)

              I was under the impression they cut the ads out then rebroadcast it. That's copyright infringement.

              Turns out the DVR uses closed captions and other meta data to do the cutting on the DVR. That's protected fair use time-shifting. It's also going to be vulnerable to the networks altering the meta data to trick the DVR into not skipping certain ads - they could charge a premium for those...

              Dish have a few patents that describe this.

              • Re:Hey... (Score:4, Informative)

                by mog007 (677810) <[Mog007] [at] [gmail.com]> on Thursday July 25, 2013 @08:11AM (#44379501)

                The hopper doesn't analyze meta data or closed captions or anything like that.

                The reason the commercial skip feature doesn't work right after broadcast, is because a human being actually watches the program at Dish HQ, marks the start and end time stamps of each commercial break, and the device then skips those times when you tell it to.

                It's not an elegant solution, but it's immune to anything the broadcasters can try to do to muck up an automated solution.

    • by fermion (181285)
      Give me box that I can hook up to my cable box and record everything for several days on as many channels as I want. Well, at least 10 or so. In this world of $50 terabyte drives this should be possible. I have no issue with what the broadcast channels fighting dish on this. The real criminals are the cable channels that fight to keep the content, that maybe only 100 people watch, back in the 50's and away from time shifting and commercial skipping.
      • by msauve (701917)
        Buy a TiVo or three. They come with up to 4 tuners these days. How you're going to find time to watch 10x realtime video, you'll need to figure out (let alone why you would want to watch that amount of pablum).
        • by sjames (1099)

          I doubt the intent is to watch it all. Rather, the intent is to capture it all and then get to choose after the fact which shows to watch and which to delete.

          That way if someone tells you how great show X was last night you can go home and watch it.

    • You mean the public airwaves they pay millions of dollars to use? Spectrum is auctioned, not given away.

      • by msauve (701917)
        Cite please, for TV spectrum.
      • by sjames (1099)

        They pay for exclusive use of a slice, but there are other conditions attached.

        Kinda like you pay rent on your apartment but the lease doesn't grant you the right to open a head shop in your living room.

    • by icebike (68054)

      They paid for the privilege of using the airwaves. Licensing fees are huge.
      But your point becomes moot in the case of cable.

    • Next step - in what way is putting content on the public airwaves not placing it in the public domain?

      In what way is it placing the content in the public domain?
       
      Or maybe you're unaware of how anything becomes public domain, it's just a buzzphrase to you. You repeat it like a parrot or a three year old without a single clue as to what it actually means.

  • FTFY (Score:5, Funny)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @10:07PM (#44377011)

    The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed...

    What, that us unwashed masses can still use VCR-like features on modern equipment? Huzzah! So glad our courts are clogged up like a fat southern guy's arteries with pointless legal meanderings. What other landmark rulings can I hope to read soon... books in electronic format can be loaned just like regular books? That linking to a page on the internet shouldn't warrant 10 years in prison under the Computer Fraud Act of... whatever?

    Where's a billion dollar frivolous landsuit and contempt of court ruling when you need one, guys? These corporations are killing the court system, and you're dealing with it about as well as that diabetic fat dude I just mentioned is when he neglects to take his shots. You're gonna get tingles at the extremities, and before you know it, you'll be deaf, blind, stupid, and having your bowels cleaned out by orderlies because you can't even shit right in a few years at this rate.

    • fat?deaf?blind?stupid? point made at fat.
      • Re:FTFY (Score:5, Funny)

        by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @10:36PM (#44377211)

        fat?deaf?blind?stupid? point made at fat.

        This is the internet, man. You don't just make points here, you pull out a fucking bat and you beat it into them until they stop twitching. And then hit them a couple more times, move to Florida, and claim the other guy threatened your position and you were just Standing Your Ground.

  • by arbiter1 (1204146)
    What i see with this ruling in dish's favor causing some big issues when broadcasting contracts are up for renewal. they will be demanding more money from dish.
  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @10:31PM (#44377187)

    According to the Fox, the Hopper automatically records eight days' worth of prime time programming on the four major networks...

    Ummm, This, Discovery, USA and BBC-AM? If the Hopper records only the four major networks, FOX has no standing to sue because they aren't involved.

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @10:33PM (#44377195)

    This Ad skipping technology can be defeated by keeping: -

    1: Avoiding abrupt volume increases,
    2: Avoiding abrupt changes in scene colour saturation,
    3: Keeping the network logo on during commercials,
    4: Randomly playing commercials. I have come to be in position to predict when a commercial is coming on.

    Someone should develop the tech...or even better, patent it.

    • by Huntr (951770) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @10:41PM (#44377251)

      None of that would work because Dish technicians actually watch the broadcasts and manually record when the commercial breaks start and stop.

      • Madre di dios.

        I hope those folks get paid well and have good mental health benefits. It would be like screening for child porn - you'd never be the same.

        • by Huntr (951770)

          I don't know about how many hours each tech watches on his shift or anything like that, but, I agree, that job sounds horrid.

          Unfortunately, Dish is annually named as 1 of the worst companies to work for in America. There was a blurb just a few days ago on that in the Wall St Journal/HuffPo/etc.

          • by eWarz (610883)
            I don't know, i find dish to be better than directv. Everyone I've known who has had directv (about 8 people so far) has had issues with them silently renewing contracts and charging the customer an ETF when they want to cancel. We had no such issues with dish when we cut the cord.
            • That's not what he said. Dish Network is better for its customers that Direct TV, sure, but Dish Network is the worst company in America to its own employees. Which sucks, since otherwise I've been happy with them for 10 years, but I don't want to support a company that is that bad to its workers. I guess I'll switch to Google TV next year after all.

          • by Camael (1048726) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @11:51PM (#44377605)

            You probably read it this article [businessweek.com].

            At Dish headquarters in Englewood, a suburb of Denver, the day begins no later than 9 a.m. Badges used to be the preferred method of entry into the building. But a few years ago, after noticing that some employees were taking advantage of the system by having others badge-in for them, Ergen upgraded to fingerprint scanners. If a worker is late, an e-mail is immediately sent to human resources, which then sends another to that person’s boss, and sometimes directly to Ergen.

            Or maybe on AOL [aol.com]

        • Given a copy of the broadcast on a computer with a jog wheel to control the fast forward and rewind, I doubt it would take long, especially given that most ads are scheduled to occur at more or less standard intervals. It can't be harder than what people with DVRs have to put up with now to fast forward past ads.

        • I dont think this would be difficult or time consuming. Assuming they could fast forward through the content they would simply need to timestamp the start/stop times for all commercials. Then they would have something in the Hopper coding to look for the timestamps and skip those minutes.

          Or if they invested just a little more time they could edit out the content, perhaps even automatically, again using timestamps.

          A proficient tech could probably do the entire network for a day in 15 minutes.

      • I say that because for years I have been using an application called BeyondTV by Snapstream and it has a SmartSkip feature that automatically marks the beginning and end of commercials and doesn't require any manual input.

        I would find it hard to believe that Dish would actually pay people to do something there was automated technology to do.

        Do you have a link or something to verify your statement?

    • by pipedwho (1174327)

      Some good suggestions, but they only protect against the most basic (and generally unreliable) detection techniques.

      One of the most powerful methods of commercial detection is to correlate the feed against a database of known commercials. Autocorrelation of the feed is used to find all the repeating commercials across multiple shows (or within a given show). A human could be used to further validate whenever the level of uncertainty exceeds a set threshold. The longer the search period, the more accurate th

    • First of all, someone has already patented a method of preventing the use of a commercial ad skip feature....

      However, some 10 years ago (I think.... it's been a while), back when the TIVO was a new piece of technology, someone developed ACE - Automatic Commercial Elimination.
      This was made possible by a single piece of "technology" that ALL TV and radio stations MUST use. And that is a signal to determine the beginning and end of commercial blocks.
      Sure, they can just remove that, but then the feds will come

  • Viacom, Disney and other content owners will start jacking up the prices on Dish for revenue lost from commercials, they'll have those mexican stand offs where Viacom for example ups the rates, Dish refuses to pay and eventually does. Then the consumer gets the bill.

    Actually I remember when Cable first started appearing in neighborhoods and it wasn't all commercials and going to cable meant you weren't inundated with every Billy Mays ad out there. Now every Cable Channel is 20 mins of programming, 10 mins

  • by Xicor (2738029)
    i dont understand what fox thought they were going to succeed in doing... there is now law for them to have grounds for a lawsuit. you cant sue someone because they are reducing your profit by not allowing you to abuse the system.
  • I mean, I know that they traditionally used audio levels to detect when the commercial breaks start and end, but now there are quite a few networks which do not practice this (which is nice for people that don't want to have to manually turn down the tv volume whenever commercials start when they are watching live programming and turn the volume back up when the show starts again).
    • by jittles (1613415)

      I mean, I know that they traditionally used audio levels to detect when the commercial breaks start and end, but now there are quite a few networks which do not practice this (which is nice for people that don't want to have to manually turn down the tv volume whenever commercials start when they are watching live programming and turn the volume back up when the show starts again).

      Via analytics. I used to have an OTA tuner hooked up to my computer. It would record TV as it came in and after a show was over, it would run a python script that would check the video against known commercials. Within 2 minutes of a show being over, I could watch the entire episode almost completely commercial free. Sometimes it would miss a commercial, or would cut a couple of seconds from the show. The nice thing about that set up was that it didn't actually truncate the video, but mark it. I could

  • Next thing Fox is going to mandate all cable/sat companies to only sell "always on" devices that can only stream Fox and lock owners in their homes. If the cable company subscribers don't watch fox 24/7 at a blasting loud volume, they want extra money from the companies because they are losing money. Come on, you can't expect people to actually watch your show or not go to the toilet, kitchen or whatever during commercial breaks either. Just because there's "fast forward" on a VCR doesn't mean it should be
  • Advertisers do not pay to have their adverts replayed in perpetuity.
  • [Full disclosure: I work on a product like this]

    This kind of system is also in operation in Germany. There was a major lawsuit between RTL (huge German broadcaster) and TC Unterhaltungselektronic AG, that very much reflects this lawsuit. Here is a link to the German court ruling as reported by Spiegel: http://www.spiegel.de/kultur/gesellschaft/fernseh-fee-bgh-erlaubt-verkauf-von-werbeblockern-a-305779.html [spiegel.de]

    I realise this is a bit of a shameless plug, but it is relevant to the interests of this thread:
    http: [fernsehfee.de]

  • This is the same code that has been sued over AT LEAST three times. What a total waste of money and effort. Can't a higher court make a betamax vrs Sony ruling and get this over already?

    Christ now the hook is 1 hr after you can forward ads. Good luck, if that's all it takes to make this legit, more power to you, but two (three?) companies have been shuttered trying to keep this code legal & alive. I'd think about that if I were on the board of dish.

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