Thursday, July 25, 2013

Courts say that software that enables skipping commercials doesn't infringe on copyrights

Cecilia Kang reports in the Washington Post July 25 that the Ninth Circuit (3 judge panel) has agreed with a district court that the Dish Hopper service, sued by Fox, did not violate copyrights in providing a way for consumers to bypass commercials.  The link for the story is here

The court ruled that bypassing commercials doesn’t infringe copyrights. Only making illegal (complete or partial) copies will do that.

The problem impacts traditional broadcast and perhaps cable television business models, in a manner parallel to how "do not track" might affect Internet "free service" business models. 
In my own experience, I see ads on cable programs that I “pay” for (like on CNN); on many YouTube videos (which I can skip).  I don’t see them on Amazon Instant Play, which is sometimes free when played immediately, but often requires a rental (from $1.99 to $6.99).  Google YouTube rentals also don’t display commercials. 

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