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In another blow to peddlers of illicit video piracy services and a further success for US pay-TV operator DISH on the heels of forcing the closure of an illegal IPTV operation, the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has ruled to shut down unauthorised digital streaming and distribution by the providers of the Shava and Cres TV set-top boxes and awarded more than $25 million (€23.32m) in damages.
“This decision reinforces the fact that services streaming video without copyright authorisation are blatant infringers and will be held accountable by the courts,” said Alex Fonoroff, senior corporate counsel at DISH. “Enforcement efforts are underway, and as ISPs terminate service to the Shava and Cres networks, we expect to see piracy on these boxes come to an end.”
“Perpetrators of pirate TV services think they can get away with it, but as this ruling proves, it’s only a matter of time before the law puts an end to illegal streaming schemes,” said Jaideep Janakiram, SVP International Business- Head of the Americas at Sony, whose subsidiary MSM Asia Ltd. was a plaintiff in the case. “The defendants deceived customers by illegally using our broadcast feed and logo, making the service look legitimate. Dealers and consumers must educate themselves on legal alternatives, otherwise, they will continue to waste their money on products that will become worthless.”
Filed in June 2015, the lawsuit brought claims for copyright infringement, trademark infringement and unfair competition by the makers of the Shava TV and Cres IPTV devices, which retransmitted Arabic and South Asian entertainment. The defendants profited by capturing live broadcast signals of protected channels, then transcoding those signals for Internet streaming. They then retransmitted the channels using a peer-to-peer network, in which users of the box inadvertently send content to other users.
In addition to the unauthorised transmission of video content, the providers of the Shava and Cres streaming services also unlawfully used logos and trademarks of the plaintiffs, giving the false impression that the service was legitimate.
The court awarded a total of $25,650,000 in damages to plaintiffs for unauthorised distribution of copyrighted works. Plaintiffs in the case include DISH Network L.L.C., Al Jazeera Media Network, Asia TV USA Ltd., B4U U.S., Inc., GEO USA LLC, Impress Telefilm, Inc., MBC FZ LLC, MSM Asia Ltd., Soundview Broadcasting LLC, Soundview ATN LLC, Star India Private Ltd. and Viacom18 Media Private Limited.
Following the ruling, the plaintiffs are working with ISPs, CDN’s and others to enforce the injunction.
“The outcome of these lawsuits is another important message that unlawful transmissions of copyrighted content will not be tolerated,” said Chris Kuelling, Executive Director of IBCAP, a coalition formed to prevent the unauthorised distribution of international television content. “These lawsuits once again demonstrate that content owners can successfully fight against digital streaming piracy to protect customers from unauthorised services,” Kuelling concluded.