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COMM400 Mass Media Law : Broadcasting Company Against Dish Network



In case of Fox Broadcasting Company V. Dish Network, LLC the decision was made by the District Court of United States for the Central District of California. This is a case on copyright (Joyce et al., 2016).

Fox made allegations against Dish regarding breach of contract and infringement of copyright. A partial summary judgment was granted denying by the court denying a major part of the copyright claims against Dish Network, which were presented by Fox (Esquenet, Hornick & Westley, 2013).


Facts of the case

The parties, namely Fox had made allegations of breach of contract and infringement of copyright against Dish Network. The main reason for the allegations was: Dish had offered service of a similar device like DVR. ‘Dish Anywhere’ allowed the users to save or record the programme that could be later accessed by a device connected with the internet.

The services offered by Dish Network included a Set top box with a feature of Digital Video Recorder or DVR and a feature of Video on Demand or VOD, which is called Hopper. The users were further allowed to record Fox’s prime time programmes by Prime Time Any Time (PTAT) and were allowed to skip commercials automatically by AutoHop feature ("DISH Official Site – Satellite Television Provider", 2017).

Legal background

Dish was sued by Fox for infringement of copyright and breach of contract in the year 2012 around 24th of May. Fox had filed a petition for preliminary injunction to prohibit the services of Dish from operation, sale, or distribution in any place that includes any Dish Anywhere, AutoHop, Prime Time Anytime, Hopper Transfers and other comparable features.

In this context, a similar case of Cartoon Network, LP v. CSC Holdings, Inc., can be referred to, which is a case on copyright infringement in context of DVR or Digital Video Recorder (Karjala, 2012).


The matter was decided on 12th of January 2012. Initially the preliminary injunction was denied by the District Court. Fox further appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by which it was affirmed ("FindLaw's United States Ninth Circuit case and opinions.", 2017).

Requests for rehearing by the plaintiff were denied. Finally on January, 2015, partial summary judgment was granted by The District Court. The opinion of the court concluded that there was no copyright infringement of Fox’s copyright, either direct or secondary, by Dish. Nevertheless, there was existence of contractual infringement.


The preliminary injunction was denied at first by the District Court. The injunction was denied because AutoHop and PTAT feature did not constitute in the infringement of copyright. In the given case, precedents of CoStar V. Loopnet and Cartoon Network, LP V. CSC Holdings Inc. were referred to. Quality Assurance copies constituted breach of contract, but the resulting harm was repairable.

The opinion of the District Court was reviewed by the Ninth Circuit by a differential review standard. Fox had contended that the Retransmission Consent Agreement was violated by PTAT and Quality Assurance copies. The contention of the Court was that the copyright to advertisements were not owned by Fox, and the advertisements were not removed from PTAT. The AutoHop feature did not intervene in Fox’s affairs. Hence, the copyright interest of Fox were not interfered. The district court contended that the users could take the defense of fair use within the walls of home.

PTAT automatically records contents that are permissible, the dissemination was done by the users and not by Dish. The district court corresponded with the contention of Fox that the provision of No-copying was breached by Quality Assurance copies and there had been a breach of contract. The compensation or amount of damages to be paid by Dish for the time that used Quality Assurance copies was a matter of trial of the factual circumstances and at the discretion of the court (Bently & Sherman, 2014).


In conclusion, it can be said that the primary and important element should be fair use. The value of copyrighted work, the effect of usage on potential market and the likelihood or possibility of future market harm must be taken into consideration.  


Bently, L., & Sherman, B. (2014). Intellectual property law. Oxford University Press, USA.

DISH Official Site – Satellite Television Provider. (2017). Retrieved 5 October 2017, from

Esquenet, M. A., Hornick, J. F., & Westley, B. R. (2013). Seven cases changing copyright protection in the US. Managing Intell. Prop., 233, 42.

FindLaw's United States Ninth Circuit case and opinions.. (2017). Findlaw. Retrieved 5 October 2017, from

Joyce, C., Ochoa, T. T., Carroll, M. W., Leaffer, M. A., & Jaszi, P. (2016). Copyright law (p. 85). Carolina Academic Press.

Karjala, D. S. (2012). Copying and Piracy in the Digital Age. Washburn LJ, 52, 245.

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