back to article Judge denies move to ban ad-skipping DVR

US satellite broadcaster Dish Networks can continue providing its subscribers with a DVR capable of automatically skipping adverts, a US District Court judge has ruled. Judge Dolly Gee in the Central District of California court this week refused News International’s Fox Broadcasting subsidiary a preliminary injunction to …

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Didn't TiVo get into problems for this

back in the 90s ? ISTR they offered a subscription service which connected to a database which held details of where the ads were (presumably entered by a human). The TiVo would load the timings and use them to skip ads on recorded content.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Didn't TiVo get into problems for this

Think they backed down to a "fast-forward 30secs" button which allows you to skip ads at high speed. Most UK ad breaks seem to be 4mins so 8 presses on the button (each additional press adds 30secs to an already running fast-forward") gets past the ads pretty quickly

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Gimp

Re: Didn't TiVo get into problems for this

Tivo never had a full commercial skip feature. They did however change what their "skip forward" button did, several times. The original version skipped exactly 30 seconds. I don't remember if it went all the way to being sued about this specifically (tivo had lots of legal issues, both as plaintiff and as defendant, over the years), but they later changed the button to do a shorter skip. However, the original 30 second skip feature could be turned back on with a code that was a badly-hidden secret.

ReplayTV, on the other hand, had a fully automatic commercial skip, and they did get in trouble over it.

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Flame

Re: Didn't TiVo get into problems for this

Most UK ad breaks seem to be 4mins

Yes, Tivo can either FF at up to three speeds or use the "skip" button for 30sec jumps. But recent changes in the advertising rules on terrestrial TV channels now means that the fixed length advert breaks can now be varied such that the 24 hour average has the same amount of advertising time. The result is more and longer ad breaks at peak times and shorter/less ad breaks off peak. I find the ad breaks can require anything from 6 to 10 presses to skip them all. Bastards. And don't get me started on Ch5 showing the station ident between each advert making it harder to spot the end of the ad break. Bigger bastards.

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Re: Didn't TiVo get into problems for this

I've had my Sony Freeview HDD/DVD recorder for about 5 years now. It records things in chapters, and usually you can just skip to the next chapter, which co-incidentally happens to be the end of the ad break.

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Facepalm

Re: Didn't TiVo get into problems for this

"not only breaches its content supply contract with Dish but that it also amounts to copyright infringement"

the copyright infringement accusation is pure bollocks.

the content supply contract line might be valid, depending of course on what's in it.

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Holmes

Dish Networks sure has guts fighting Murdoc and big media

Since the media is an important block in the pyramid to control and brainwash the masses, its pretty gutsy to fight them, cause you're basically going up against the Rothchild / Rockefeller club.

They'll just roll the dice if they buy you out or have you shot. Or both.

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The trouble is, this will likely just lead to cases where the channels overlay adverts above the TV programme, obscuring whatever you were trying to watch. I've seen quite a lot of US shows do that already with adverts for other shows, including really distracting video overlays rather than just a subtle text caption, so how long before you just get no actual advert breaks, but almost constant interruptions that you can't skip, floating in from all sides of the screen?

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Meh

This was exactly my first thought as well, having seen it used frequently on TV in the US.

Surprised we haven't seen it this side of the pond yet.

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"Surprised we haven't seen it this side of the pond yet."

Maybe not ads, but TV companies are nowadays very fond of ruining the credits with pointless ads for the next program coming up or whats on their other channel. It was bad enough when they just spoke over the credits, now they shrink them down to such a small size they're impossible to read which is totally unfair on the people who made the program. The credits exist for a reason. It would be nice if the channel controllers might remember that occasionally.

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"Surprised we haven't seen it this side of the pond yet"

There are already intrusions used this side of the pond.

There are often large interruptions to the credits (OK, maybe not the same) but there are also lines of text overlaying onto the main content of some programmes. It may only have been text lines on silly programmes so far (daytime?), but it has been there.

Note to broadcasters - stop it NOW!

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Anonymous Coward

Note to broadcasters - stop it NOW!

or what?

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Law
Unhappy

"Surprised we haven't seen it this side of the pond yet."

We have, sort of... with the BBC promoting other programmes during the end sequence of other programmes. The one that annoyed me was the Dr Who HD broadcast that an animated Graham Norton ruined.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8642854.stm

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Anonymous Coward

@SteveK

>I've seen quite a lot of US shows do that already

You should see Spanish TV. You can be watching the news then the presenter will start talking about the benefits of such and such a product. No break, no pause for breath, straight from a news article into advertising and only very recently they've started to show the word "publicidad" but where it's least likely to be noticed. It's also done on the pre-amble to the Formula 1 coverage. As if what seems to be a 50/50 advert to race ratio isn't enough we get a bald headed twat, who only climbs out of Alsonso arse to tell us how good Fernando his and push products.

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Fair point, and I have thought in the past how disrespectful this is to those who contributed to the program.

I do think the in-programme adverts originally referred to, featuring animations of characters cavorting across the bottom, sides - heck, all over - the screen are of a magnitude more irritating though!

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Meh

Yes I'd forgotten about the Dr Who / Graham Norton incident!

Perhaps the fallout following that has made them think twice about pulling a stunt like that again?

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re: credits there for a reason

"...they shrink them down to such a small size they're impossible to read which is totally unfair on the people who made the program. The credits exist for a reason. It would be nice if the channel controllers might remember that occasionally."

Indeed. For a movie, I can just refer to imdb.com. For episodic television, that's a tiny bit more complicated but that extra complexity wouldn't be necessary if they would just let the credits roll in the manner they were created. What's worse is the "double whammy" of squeezing the content down AND speeding it up to a level where only a DVR with pause or slow-motion mode has any chance at all.

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Stop it NOW! or...

I would have thought it obvious. I won't be a lack of commercials that kills watching TV so much as the lack of entertainment value to those of us already fed up with commercials.

You can only adulterate food so much, after that people will begin looking for a change of diet.

Obviously couch potatoes are immune but obese people tend to confine themselves to the TV anyway, hell they might even get cured by watching TV.

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Mushroom

Re: Note to broadcasters - stop it NOW!

or what?

Or we'll quit watching TV. It's not that tough a decision to make considering the quality of most of the content these days. Hell, I haven't watched TV on any kind of regular basis in 13 years. MST3K was the last TV show I had a regular "date" to watch every week, and even then, most times I'd tape it and watch it later so I could FF through the commercials. I don't even own a TV set myself. We have one in the bedroom hooked up to the satellite box, but upstairs in my studio, there's no TV set, unless you count the ixMicro card in the old G3, hooked up to a DTV converter and an old VCR. Last time I watched any substantial amount of TV was in January of last year, when I watched the protests in Egypt on Al Jazeera (in the DC area, there's a local channel on OTA DTV that carries their English service).

Or we'll just wait until any series we're interested in are released on DVD. How tough can that be? Catch a couple of episodes of something, decide you dig it, and wait for it to come out on DVD. Hell, the wait isn't even that long anymore these days. Aren't the first couple of seasons of Mad Men already out on DVD?

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Devil

Re: @SteveK

You should see Spanish TV. You can be watching the news then the presenter will start talking about the benefits of such and such a product. No break, no pause for breath, straight from a news article into advertising,,,

Lately, on local TV news in the States, we've been getting a lot of what are called VPRs, or Video Press Releases -- canned "news reports" which are usually just "advertorial" for products, services or companies. The anchordroid will make the usual bland lead-in commentary, and they'll go straight to the VPR -- and it's obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together that it's a PVR because the production values and style are entirely different from the remotes and other reports produced by the local station, except that it has the local station's "bug" and "crawl" and other local station dinguses superimposed on the bottom of the screen.

The worst I'd ever seen was on one local station's early morning news on the first "official" day of the 2003 Christmas shopping season. After the usual sensationalistic stories about massive lines outside stores and shock footage of people fighting over XBoxes -- arguably, advertising in itself -- the anchordroid launches into some blabbing about the crowds outside the Best Buy in some suburb, cutting quickly to some short footage they'd shot earlier that morning, while the anchordroid mentioned how shoppers "...were later seen leaving with bargains, including a Sony 48-inch flatscreen for only $XXX.99..." This same anchordroid later "tagged" the end of the local weather report by mentioning how it looked ilke it was going to be a really nice day to "...get out there and scoop up those bargains..."

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That will be the day when broadcast television successfully renders itself obsolete. One can easily see that broadcast television behaves as if it is STILL the only game in town. This is obviously as bad position to take and a big part of the reason for the rise of Netflix and Hulu and Amazon, comapnies all taking advantage of broadcast televisions archaic position. Simply, removing people's choice to skip commercials will FORCE people to choose other non-advert laced sources. Broadcast television is actually FORCING people choose anything other than itself. How can this be a successful strategy?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Note to broadcasters - stop it NOW!

Stop watching live TV. It's possible with iplayer and torrents.

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FAIL

Re: Note to broadcasters - stop it NOW!

I know the over-the-top ad situation coupled with the shit quality of American TV has pushed quite a few of my friends into exploring TPB, to the extent of buying VPN accounts to hide said exploration.

They've gone from "buh, whut, iddn't that piracy?" to "damn, this is really nice" and it's pretty much the broadcaster's fault for finally pushing them over the edge and making them go "I can't stand this any more. isn't there something better out there?"

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Reminds me of the Lawyer's TV in 'Idiocracy' - Massive big screen mostly covered in garish flashing adverts with a tiny postage-stamp of content in the middle.

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It will also lead to yet more blatant product placement in programs. For example various Fox shows with people in cars saying "this feature is nice and that feature is nice" and obviously advertising the car rather than concentrating on the story. Also a CSI from about two weeks ago which spent a lot of time plugging a Shazam copycat music recognition app which they were presumably paid for marketing.

This may actually be more annoying than adverts to fast forward through :(

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Linux

Meh...

If that adpocalypse comes then just buy a Roku.

If streaming services aren't available, then just buy some DVDs from Amazon and install yourself a copy of Plex.

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Linux

Re: Note to broadcasters - stop it NOW!

Embedded ads are annoying even if you have pre-recorded the show.

Popups are especially annoying because they quite often obscure part of the action.

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FAIL

Even worse if you happen to be subject to the morons running TVNZ... Then you get the original credits ditched entirely and scrolled in plain text at the bottom of the screen while the ads play. So if the show you were watching was one of those that continues the story during the credits - tough luck.

The FAIL icon is for TVNZ, not the OP, obviously :)

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"This is obviously as bad position to take and a big part of the reason for the rise of Netflix and Hulu"

Have you watched anything on Hulu recently? 2 minute ad breaks every 6 minutes. And you can't skip them!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Note to broadcasters - stop it NOW!

tvtorrents.com

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no lover of ads ..

but isn't there a slight difference in "punters being allowed to [infringe]" and actually providing a button on the device which allows them to do so?

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Re: no lover of ads ..

But to infringe what, FFS?

Is there a law saying that thou shalt not take a leak while an ad showth on TV or something?

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Re: no lover of ads ..

I was referring to the bit regarding Dish's stated position - "For its part, Dish says its system is protected by 1980s judgements that home video cassette recorder makers are not liable when the devices’ users infringe copyright by recording shows off the air." - countering Fox's (rather specious) claim that by-passing of ads constitutes infringement.

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Re: no lover of ads ..

Personally I can't see how it could be argued as copyright infringement at all. Surely it's just start and end time stamps provided in a separate file. You could just as easily generate one for the boring bits in films, or a daily recommendation of which news paper has the best crossword.

Essentially it has no effect on the content, only on how the user chooses to use the content.

In answer to your question; there's a big difference infringing and allow to infringe. But in this case I'd say no one's infringing anything.

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@ Bakunin

Your not getting it, the infringement is in recording the programme in the first place, not in skipping the adds.

The ruling in the 80s was basically to protect the VCR manufactures from prosecution, in that although they provide equipment that can be used to infringe copyright (record live TV) it's the person who pressed the record button that actually did the infringing, not the VCR manufacturer.

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Re: no lover of ads ..

But to infringe what, FFS?

Is there a law saying that thou shalt not take a leak while an ad showth on TV or something?

I remember one amazing moment about ten or twelve years ago, on the NBC Today show -- in fact, it may have been during the first Tivo ad-skipping brouhaha -- where some TV industry flack was being interviewed. Obviously highly indignant over viewers having the audacity to avoid watching advertising, this clown looked the whole country right in the eye on a national news program and said that people who record TV shows and skip through the commercials are "thieves". I shit you not. I suppose I should've been outraged and offended, but I was too busy laughing.

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Re: @ Bakunin

@ Boothy

Perhaps I've over simplified it, but the line ...

"Fox maintains that Dish’s ad-skipping system, called AutoHop, not only breaches its content supply contract with Dish but that it also amounts to copyright infringement."

... seemed to imply that Dish already has a right to produce DVRs, but the ad-skipping part was what annoyed them.

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Re: no lover of ads ..

"Is there a law saying that thou shalt not take a leak while an ad showth on TV or something?"

Was it Murdoch who said that skipping the ads was theft, as the ads supposedly pay for the show? I think it was Murdoch, although I could be wrong. That's their justification, anyway. Utter, utter bullcrap that makes me specifically want to skip every ad ever out of sheer spite, but that's what they think.

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Re: no lover of ads ..

@Mike Flugennock: "I remember one amazing moment about ten or twelve years ago, on the NBC Today show -- in fact, it may have been during the first Tivo ad-skipping brouhaha -- where some TV industry flack was being interviewed."

Ah, that's the one - not Murdoch after all. Apparenlty great Mikes think alike ;)

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Holmes

See what happens when he loses his inside man

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19472688

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Happy

Fox said it was “disappointed”

Fox is having a bad week. I did laugh.

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Happy

Oh shit....

They can't force feed people more bullshit adds, to buy more cars and junk food, when they already have 5 cars in a four person house and live only on take away pizzas?

Damn, oh fucking, damn.

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But not watching adverts is like stealing TV!

Won't someone think of the poor greasy advertising executives?

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Law
Black Helicopters

Re: But not watching adverts is like stealing TV!

You wouldn't steal a handbag.

You wouldn't steal a car.

You wouldn't steal a baby.

You wouldn't shoot a policeman.

And then steal his helmet.

You wouldn't go to the toilet in his helmet.

And then send it to the policeman's grieving widow.

And then steal it again!

Skipping ads is stealing - if you do it, you will face the consequences!

*FBI smashes into a girls bedroom - shoots her in the head for skipping the 15th barbie advert that half hour... cut to blood pooling next to a full collection of barbie dolls*

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I put the TV on mute during adverts and switch to the laptop. The only problem is remembering to switch back when the ads end. I don't see a problem with something to automatically do this. In fact if I had my way by law broadcasters would be required to send signals indicating adverts were starting/ending so that 3rd parties could use that information.

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Some do. It's a signal to the local stations to place their adverts instead of the national ones.

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Unhappy

Other than increased volume?

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Might be good for the viewing experience, but what does it do to the business model?

Programs need to be funded, revenue generation is essential to the creation process, so....the consumer wants ad-free viewing which is fair enough. Dish are simply serving that need, but what they are not doing is partnering to build an alternative model which is mutually satisfactory between content producer, provider and consumer.

Dish works well due to its subscription model (ironic for Murdoch), but you get charged twice, you pay your subs to Dish, the content networks get a proportion of this, then they also monetize your viewing choice by advert revenue.

One alternative may be to provide add-free channels at a premium over the regular, inserted add model. the other would be move invasion of the product into the program (overlays, placements etc). Another may be to shift the advertising to DISH vs. the network channel, but this marginalizes them further.

What you can't do, and expect it not to have consequences, is just strip away a revenue generator without reconsidering the whole model. I think everyone agrees that the current system isn't ideal, maybe something like nominal subscription fee then micro-transaction per episode may emerge soon (I don't mean iTunes gouging), clearly the consumer wants an add-free model, the real question is how you fund it.

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Angel

Re: Might be good for the viewing experience, but what does it do to the business model?

Perhaps the Youtube model is the best - you have to watch the first 5 seconds of the ad and if its of interest to you you might watch all of it otherwise you can skip it. I think its the best compromise that anyone's come up with yet. Or failing that perhaps companies could just get to the point in advertisements - we don't need a whole 30 secs of film to tell us about the latest discounts at Currys or wherever. Just flash up a banner for a few seconds and then end.

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Re: Might be good for the viewing experience, but what does it do to the business model?

Consequences be damned. Once the data reaches the output device people should be able to modify it however they want. If I want to turn the grass orange when watching football matches so be it. If I want to skip the weather part of the news, so be it. If I want to strip ad breaks from the stream, so be it.

The law might try dancing about with this for a while, but eventually the matter will be forced when fully programmable TVs start being produced where you can write or download ad-blocking plugins from the internet and the TV manufacturers can wash their hands of whatever is done. Little different than how ad blocking plugins for browsers work. No-one to sue then unless they want to make such plugins illegal which would be absurd enough to never fly.

If the revenue model of content providers collapses as a result of all this, so be it.

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