The pirate television service known as ‘BTV’ must cease the illegal retransmission of channels, stop selling its BTV set-top box, and pay damages of $6.6 million (€5.84m), according to a recent ruling by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The BTV set-top box, which illegally delivers a variety of TV channels and programmes from India, Pakistan and other countries, is sold for nearly $300 per box with the promise that customers can watch shows and movies 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Rather than obtain the rights for these shows, the developers of the BTV service established a pirate broadcasting network that brazenly captures entire channels (such as Zee, Colors and Sony) and streams them through the BTV set-top box without permission.
“BTV is yet another example of an operation that deceives customers into thinking they are buying a legitimate service when, in fact, it’s piracy run rampant,” said Jaideep Janakiram of Sony Entertainment.
The entities who own the content (or exclusive rights to the content) that BTV was pirating include Asia TV USA Ltd., MSM Asia Ltd., Star India Private Ltd., Viacom 18 Media Private Limited, ARY Digital USA LLC and DISH Network L.L.C. In an effort to protect their content, the plaintiffs sent several cease-and-desist letters to BTV demanding that it stop illegally airing their content. BTV failed to comply, and the plaintiffs filed a suit in September 2017 for copyright and trademark infringement.
In addition to ruling that BTV must pay $6.6 million in damages to the plaintiffs, the court ruled that BTV must immediately and permanently cease transmitting the programming and stop marketing the channels, among other orders.
The court also addressed third parties that provide services enabling BTV’s piracy to flourish, ordering them to cease delivering support. The court specifically ruled that retailers must stop selling the BTV set-top box, and that parties providing online services to BTV, such as web hosts, must cease supporting the BTV service. “Not only has the court protected our rights as a content owner, it has held both BTV, and the key players in the broader ecosystem that enable piracy to flourish, accountable for their actions,” added Janakiram.
Activities are underway to ensure the court’s order is enforced.