* Movies including Toy Story 3 available for free on Dish
* Dish is devaluing movie content, says Disney
* Dish has refused to stop free Starz offer - Disney
NEW YORK, May 3 Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) filed a
copyright suit against satellite television operator Dish
Network Corp (DISH.O) for distributing popular movies including
Disney's "Toy Story 3" and "Alice in Wonderland" on a free tier
for Dish subscribers.
Disney distributes many of its top movies on cable and
satellite providers through an agreement with Liberty Media
Corp's LINTA.O LSTZA.O LCAPA.O Starz channel, a premium
network similar to Time Warner Inc's (TWX.N) HBO or CBS Corp's(CBS.N) Showtime.
The giant media company and theme park operator says it
only granted Starz permission to air the movies with the
understanding that Starz would be on a premium tier with
Disney claims in the suit that in February Dish began
providing millions of subscribers free access to Starz through
to January 2012 in violation of its agreements with both Disney
and Starz. It said it wrote to Dish in March to cease and
desist its Starz giveaway but Dish refused to do so.
Dish was not immediately available for comment.
The majority of movie content on Starz is from Disney and
Sony Corp's (6758.T) Sony Pictures. Neither Starz nor Sony is a
plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Dish.
Disney said Dish's actions devalue its movies and undermine
its "windowing" strategy. Hollywood studios and TV show makers
use windowing to try to maximize the value of their content by
offering it to consumers through differently timed "windows"
such as theater, DVD rentals and premium pay-TV.
The suit was filed at the U.S. District Court Southern
District of New York. Case No. 11 CIV 2973.
Dish is the second largest U.S. satellite TV provider with
more than 14 million subscribers. On Monday it settled a
six-year long patent legal battle with TiVo Inc (TIVO.O).
(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)