• AUTO HOP: Dish makes a few changes

    Sometimes common sense takes a back seat to legal maneuvering.
    The image you see above is a typical water saver device of the sort installed in every new shower head. The installation instructions generally say something like "do not remove the water flow regulator if local ordinances require low-flow devices." Of course, the regulator comes out easily with a pair of pliers and most people do take them out because the water police rarely come out to check.

    If the plumbing industry really wanted to sell low-flow shower heads they would cast them all in one piece of brass or plastic. By making the piece removable, they collectively say, "hey, we want to help people save water. It's not our fault if they modify our parts." The same can be said for several other industries that give a "wink wink" to safety or security issues while giving explicit instructions on how to defeat any built-in safeguards.

    What does this have to do with Auto Hop? DISH made a few tweaks in its Hopper software aimed at bolstering its case in court. Auto Hop, the automatic commercial-skipping feature on DISH's Hopper DVR, is the subject on multiple lawsuits from broadcast networks on both the east and west coasts.

    DISH has always contended that Auto Hop is about giving customers what they want in a DVR... the ability to avoid commercials. The networks say that it's illegal to modify content automatically.

    It's possible that DISH agrees. The latest changes to the Hopper software, according to Variety.com, make Auto Hop just a little less automatic, and while DISH contends that the changes were made to enhance customer choice (and that does seem to be true as well) there's no question that the lawyers will be pleased at having a stronger argument in court. Check out the changes:

    • First, subscribers now have the ability to choose which channels to record among the Big Four networks, whereas previously they were all automatically recorded.
    • Second, subs can choose to delete programming off the hard drive at a time of their choosing, as opposed to accepting a default-delete date.
    • A third upgrade switches the cursor default from "yes" to "no" when presented with the option to skip ads.
    It seems like these changes are DISH's equivalent of the water flow regulator. Now, the viewer has to take a slightly more active stance in whether or not they skip commercials. That may be all it takes to cement the lawsuits in DISH's favor. DISH can say that "as delivered" the Auto Hop feature does not automatically remove commercials; it takes some customer action to do it, just like fast forwarding.

    We'll see if that's enough to please the courts.

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    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Stuart Sweet's Avatar
      Stuart Sweet -
      What do you think of DISH's latest move?
    1. htowngator's Avatar
      htowngator -
      Quote Originally Posted by SS@SolidSignal View Post
      What do you think of DISH's latest move?
      I was about to ask if anyone had noticed weird behavior with autohop lately.

      Slower to initiate after commercial start and default selection is "no" now, not yes.
    1. titanius's Avatar
      titanius -
      I don’t really know what is going to happen in court but as a customer I am a lot happier with the adjustments. I have been using the Auto Hop feature ever since a coworker at Dish talked me into getting the Hopper. When I don’t watch commercials I have an extra hour in my day and now that my DVR doesn’t record all of the shows I can save space for more shows that I want to watch.