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CEA, Tech Groups Support Dish’s Hopper

Arlington, Va. — The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) reported that along with the Computer and Communications Industry Association and the Internet Association they filed a joint amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in support of Dish Networks over its Hopper product.

Dish is being sued by broadcasters who claim the Hopper, a  DVR with ad-skipping technology, violates copyright law because it allows recording and playback of programming 24 hours later without commercials.

CEA said in a statement that it believes that the Dish Hopper DVR is fully covered by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios Inc. As the brief states, “[R]ecording for personal, private viewing does not infringe; nor does declining to watch commercials. … There is simply no precedent for finding consumer copyright liability where, as here, recordings stay in the home, are made portable, or otherwise remain under the control of the consumer who made them.”

In the statement, CEA president/CEO Gary Shapiro said, “Almost 30 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in [the] Sony [decision] that personal, private non-commercial use of video programming is legal, and products that have significant legal uses may not be blocked by copyright owners. Today, broadcasters seek to reverse this Supreme Court decision and kill what is essentially a new generation of VCR.”

Shapiro continued, “The Hopper is more convenient to use and has more storage capacity, but has the same essential function — it allows viewers to time-shift and watch television programming at their convenience. The simple fact is, making television easier to watch is not against the law. It is simply pro-innovation and pro-consumer.”

He added, “With this lawsuit, the Hopper joins the Betamax in the long list of products that entrenched industries have insisted would harm them. In reality, the VCR, the DVR, the SlingBox and other innovative consumer technology products have expanded the market for content and presented ninja content innovators with new business opportunities.”

Shapiro mentioned in his statement the recent debacle between the Hopper and CNET and its parent company CBS at International CES over the Best of CES Awards.

“The editors at respected technology website CNET even named the most recent iteration of the Hopper ‘Best of CES’ (although CNET’s parent company, broadcaster CBS, forced them to lie about and rescind the award). Broadcasters should try innovating rather than litigating, and proactively offer their viewers the best and most up-to-date television experience that includes enabling consumers to view their favorite programs when, where and how they want.”