iStar IPTV service in anti-piracy suit
September 22, 2021
By Colin Mann
The International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy (IBCAP), a coalition of leading international broadcasters and distributors representing over 140 television channels, coordinated the filing of a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan targeting iStar Company (operator of the iStar IPTV service, one of the leading Arabic language pirate services in the US), Ahmed Karim (the owner and principal of iStar Company), Atlas Electronics (a Dearborn, Michigan-based retailer of unauthorised IPTV services), and Alaa Al-Emara (the owner and principal of Atlas Electronics).
This latest case comes on the heels of more than 20 successful lawsuits coordinated and supported by IBCAP over the last five years. DISH Network, a member of IBCAP and the owner of exclusive rights that were infringed, filed this suit after multiple notices of infringement sent by IBCAP to iStar Company and Atlas Electronics were all ignored.
The claims include direct and indirect copyright infringement against iStar Company and Ahmed Karim and an indirect copyright infringement claim against Atlas Electronics and Alaa Al-Emara. In total, the lawsuit seeks damages of more than $24 million (€20.5m) and injunctive relief.
Judgments in the prior lawsuits coordinated by IBCAP have included devastating monetary awards against pirate services and the distributors and retailers in their distribution chain, including judgments that have forced retailers out of business, some of whom have filed bankruptcy in futile attempts to avoid responsibility. In addition to the financial impact, at the core of almost all of these legal victories is a court ordered injunction that disabled the pirate network by directing third parties such as hosting companies, CDNs, and retailers to cease supporting that pirate network.
“IBCAP is continuing a coordinated attack on copyright pirates in North America, ensuring that unauthorised services and their retailers are held responsible through massive judgments and that their platforms are shut down,” said Chris Kuelling, executive director of IBCAP. “The actions from these defendants have been wilful, malicious, intentional, and purposeful, and in disregard of and with indifference to the rights of our IBCAP members. If the pirate services and their dealers don’t comply with our legal notices and requests for removal, every legal measure available will be considered and used as necessary, including seeking monetary awards and broad injunctions.”
IBCAP leveraged anti-piracy monitoring and detection services from NAGRA, which were instrumental in gathering and preparing the evidence for the case. “Piracy is a problem that has to be met with a defined strategy and the best anti-piracy tools available,” stated Jean-Philippe Plantevin, VP anti-piracy services at NAGRA. “As a proud long-term partner of IBCAP, NAGRA has provided intelligence and evidence to support this and other lawsuits against pirate services in North America and is committed to helping the industry protect its considerable investment in content production and distribution.”
The content at issue in this latest lawsuit airs on many of the leading channels from the Middle East, India, and Pakistan: Aaj Tak; Aastha; Al Arabiya; Al Hayah 1; Al Jazeera Arabic News; ARY Digital; ART Cima; ATN Bangla; ATN News; B4U Movies; B4U Music; CBC; CBC Drama; Dunya TV; Express Entertainment; Express News; Future TV; Hekayat; Hum Masala; Hum Sitaray; Hum TV; Hum World; India Today; LBC; LBCI (a/k/a LDC); MBC1; MBC Drama; MBC Kids (a/k/a MBC3); MBC Masr; Melody Classic; Melody Drama; NTV Bangla; Rotana America; SAB; SET (a/k/a Sony SET); SET MAX; Times Now; and Zoom.