DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH) began to ship a new version of its Hopper set top box just over a week ago. The new technology, hotly demanded by some, is the subject of an attempted blocking move by Fox, a subsidiary of News Corp (NASDAQ:NWSA) (NASDAQ:NWS). This news comes on top of other recent lawsuits that have sought to prevent the company’s growth.
The new set top box contains a technology called Sling. The service offers “place shifting.” That’s a fancy term for allowing users to record and watch live television on the go via the internet. Because DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH) has offered the technology for years, it was hoped that it could avoid a lawsuit based on it. Not so says a suit filed by the Fox group in a federal lawsuit.
The suit was filed with Judge Dolly Gee of the U.S. Circuit Court in California. Last November, Judge Gee rejected a Fox application for a preliminary injunction against the set top box. That suit had been filed against the 2011 version of the firm’s technology. This suit has now been amended to reflect the company’s new set top box technology.
The gist of the argument behind the suit is that DISH network users are able to watch Fox content without advertisements. Fox says this is in breach of the contract it has with the DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH). That company obviously disagrees.
The question boils down to who owns content once it’s being broadcast. Are users allowed to video what’s going on on their own television screens, or are they supposed to operate as entirely passive consumers. The precedent this case sets might help define the future of digital distribution.
There is a separate lawsuit from other large networks over the technology employed in last year’s version of the hopper, which allows users to skip commercials automatically. CBS, NBC, and ABC are also involved in legal action with the company over the same issues.
Shares in DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH) rose a fraction in today’s trading. The firm’s investors have had a volatile time so far in 2013, as the company’s legal problems, and potential mergers, have driven stock up and down. Since the start of the year, the firm’s shares are down about 3.5%. In the last twelve months, shares are up more than 20%.