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Background: Today, Public Knowledge, joined by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Organization for Transformative Works, filed an amicus brief in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Fox v. DISH Network, arguing that DISH does not infringe copyright by selling its Hopper digital video recorder (DVR), which allows viewers to skip past commercials on recorded programming, and that viewers do not infringe copyright when they use it.
The following statement may be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge.
"This case presents issues that go to the heart of innovation and fair use. The Supreme Court definitively held that home recording is a lawful fair use in its landmark Betamax decision in 1984. Like VCRs before them, all DVRs provide their users with the ability to skip commercials on recorded programming: the fast-forward button. But Fox in this case has argued that DISH's Hopper DVR, simply because it is more convenient to use in some respects than the DVRs sold by its competitors, is illegal. This is absurd, and companies should not fear being dragged into court merely for providing their customers with the features they want.
Fox has also advanced a theory that, if taken to its logical conclusion, means that all TV viewers are copyright infringers any time they skip past commercials on recorded programming--whether they use the Hopper or any other DVR. It wants to extend copyright to control the way that people watch TV. Fortunately, the law is not on its side.
While Fox likes to argue that this case is just about DISH, its implications extent to all TV viewers, all consumer electronics companies, and all cable and satellite TV providers. We filed this brief to help keep Fox from changing the law to suit its interests and against the needs of the public."
The brief is linked here.