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Disney Tries to Seal Dish Out of Its Vault

(CN) - Dish Network illegally broadcasts Disney movies on the Starz network for free, according to a federal copyright-infringement lawsuit in Manhattan.

Disney Enterprises and Buena Vista Pay Television say Dish started a year-long promotion in February to provide subscribers with free access to the Starz network, which broadcasts full-length feature films, 24 hours a day.

"Neither plaintiffs nor Starz consented to Dish's scheme to provide its subscribers with Starz Programming for free, which is in direct violation of plaintiffs' exclusive rights under federal copyright law," according to the complaint.

Disney and Buena Vista say that Dish's free promotions "uproot the common practice of 'windowing,'" where content providers "carefully sequence the licensing of exhibition rights to their copyrighted movies after their theatrical release."

Allowing subscribers to see copyrighted movies for free interferes with the plaintiffs' ability to license their products, Disney claims.

Buena Vista says the offer also interferes with its contract that limits Starz's license to broadcast its copyrighted films.

Disney is famously protective of its films after theatrical release and sells them to home viewers for short intervals that break up storage in its so-called "vault."

Disney and Buena Vista seek a permanent injunction to stop Starz from showing their movies, including "Alice in Wonderland," "Toy Story 3" and "Up." They are represented by David Yohai with Weil, Gotshal and Manges.

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