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Court Holds U.S. Retailer Accountable for Promoting Piracy by Selling IPTV Streaming Devices with Unauthorized Channels

ENGLEWOOD, Colo., , 2017— A bankruptcy court in Florida has ruled that Amit Bhalla, a retailer of IPTV streaming devices with unauthorized channels, cannot use a bankruptcy case to shield himself from monetary liability for copyright infringement.

In 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued a permanent injunction halting the unlawful distribution of television content from programmers CCTV and TVB on TVpad devices. DISH Network, which has exclusive rights to distribute much of CCTV’s and TVB’s content in the United States (including through its Sling TV OTT service), and CICC, an affiliate of CCTV, were also plaintiffs in that underlying lawsuit, which began in 2015. The plaintiffs alleged that the manufacturers and distributors of the TVpad device set up a pirate broadcasting network designed to stream CCTV and TVB channels without authorization.

The court ordered manufacturers and distributors of TVpad to pay $55 million in damages to DISH, TVB, CCTV and CICC, and the injunction prohibited retailers from distributing, advertising, marketing or promoting TVpad and comparable devices that deliver CCTV’s or TVB’s copyrighted content.

Rather than accept responsibility for his actions, Amit Bhalla chose to file for bankruptcy in an attempt to avoid being held financially accountable. Citing Bhalla’s willful and malicious conduct, the plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida. The court granted the motion, and Bhalla must now pay plaintiffs $4.4 million for copyright and trademark infringement.

“This ruling sends an important message to retailers who think they can get away with profiting off pirated content: you will eventually be held accountable, and a bankruptcy filing will not protect you,” said Samuel Tsang, vice president, Operations for TVB USA. “Our hope is that, as a result of this ruling, retailers will stop selling content obtained through illegal means and instead serve their customers with legal, reliable content and devices.”


IBCAP Applauds Successful Copyright and Trademark Infringement Lawsuits

International Broadcasters and DISH Win Lawsuits Against Shava TV, Cres IPTV, and Lool IPTV

April 20, 2017 — The International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy  (IBCAP) congratulated a number of its members for winning a lawsuit against Imran Butt and Naeem Butt, who both operated the Shava TV and Cres IPTV over-the-top streaming services and sold IPTV boxes that retransmitted television channels and used programmer logos without permission. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to stop the unauthorized digital streaming and distribution of South Asian and Arabic television channels in the United States. IBCAP members who filed the lawsuit sought to protect their copyrights in channels such as Sony Entertainment, Star Plus, Aapka Colors, Zee TV, ARY Digital, B4U, Geo TV, Channel-I, ATN Bangla, MBC, Al Jazeera, Iqraa and Murr TV.  In addition to an injunction prohibiting the continued infringement of plaintiffs’ rights in their copyrights and trademarks, the court also awarded $25,650,000 in damages against Imran Butt and Naeem Butt.  IBCAP also applauded enforcement of the order against retailers and other sellers of the Shava TV and Cres IPTV services.

A similar judgment was reached last month when the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that the owners of the Lool IPTV service unlawfully streamed international television channels to users in the United States. The court also found that Lool violated exclusive rights by encouraging the use of Lool IPTV boxes to share pirated content between users. This decision also impacts dealers who promote or sell the Lool devices and the ISPs that support the service, and enforcement of the order will work to end use of the Lool IPTV service in the United States.

“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 unauthorized distribution of international television content. “These lawsuits once again demonstrate that content owners can successfully fight against digital streaming piracy to protect customers from unauthorized services,” Kuelling concluded.

A copy of the filing against the Shava and Cres IPTV services in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia can be found here.

A copy of the filing against the Lool IPTV service in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas can be found here.


Piracy Dealt Another Blow as Court Rules Against Providers of Shava and Cres Streaming TV Services

In another blow to peddlers of illicit video piracy services, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled to shut down unauthorized digital streaming and distribution by the providers of the Shava and Cres TV set-top boxes and awarded more than $25 million in damages.

“This decision reinforces the fact that services streaming video without copyright authorization 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 unauthorized 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 unauthorized 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.

A copy of the judgement can be found here, and the original complaint can be found here.


Court Blocks Lool IPTV Service and Sellers from Continued Piracy; Awards DISH over $1 Million

 

  • Lool IPTV service owners found to have unlawfully transmitted foreign language television channels
  • Ruling also impacts dealers who promote or sell the Lool IPTV device

 

A federal court has ruled that the owners of the Lool IPTV service unlawfully streamed international television channels to users in the United States in violation of rights held by DISH. As part of the ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ordered a $1,050,000 judgement in favor of DISH from defendants Lool Tech Co., Limited and Shenzhen Bilinren Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a Shenzhen Lool Tech Co., Ltd.

“DISH works diligently with international programmers to legally deliver their content to consumers in the United States,” said Alex Fonoroff, senior corporate counsel at DISH. “This judgment makes it clear that the courts will not stand by and allow unauthorized services like Lool to profit at the expense of consumers, programmers, and lawful providers.”

According to the court’s final judgement, the Lool defendants retransmitted channels in which DISH holds exclusive rights, and copyrighted works that air on those channels, to users of their Lool IPTV service. In doing so, the court held that Lool directly infringed DISH’s exclusive rights to distribute and publicly perform the works that air on the channels.

The court also found that Lool further violated DISH’s rights by using the Lool IPTV boxes to share pirated content between users, and that the Lool defendants encouraged this activity rather than taking simple steps to prevent it. As a result of the ruling, the Lool defendants and entities affiliated with them, including retailers and other sellers of the Lool IPTV device, are permanently enjoined from copying, retransmitting, distributing, and promoting channels in violation of DISH’s rights.

DISH is enforcing the order against retailers who sell the Lool IPTV box and similar devices, including working with local investigators to identify retailers who sell the Lool IPTV box.  DISH is also enforcing the order against internet service providers that support the defendants’ service, which will result in the partial or complete termination of the Lool IPTV service for users in the United States.

A copy of the Lool complaint can be found here, and a copy of the ruling can be found here.

DISH was represented in the Lool lawsuit by the law firm of Hagan Noll & Boyle LLC.


IBCAP AND NAGRA EXTEND AGREEMENT IN THE FIGHT AGAINST PIRACY OF INTERNATIONAL TV CONTENT IN THE UNITED STATES

Expanded partnership leverages NAGRA’s anti-piracy technology, expertise and scalability to provide the next level of content value protection to IBCAP members

Englewood, CO., and Cheseaux, Switzerland – April 10, 2017 The International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy, Inc. (IBCAP), an alliance of leading international broadcasters committed to combatting unauthorized streaming and distribution of international television content in the United States, and NAGRA, a Kudelski Group (SIX:KUD.S) company and the world’s leading independent provider of content protection and multiscreen television solutions, have entered into an expanded agreement to bring a new generation of anti-piracy technology and services to broadcasters and distributors of international and multicultural content.

“While anti-piracy measures against mainstream content seem to be an increasing priority for distributors and content owners, no organization was focused exclusively on protecting international and multicultural content. IBCAP was formed three years ago to fill this gap and has achieved significant success through its monitoring and takedown efforts” said Chris Kuelling, Executive Director of IBCAP. “The expansion of our agreement with NAGRA will help us leverage the latest technologies and expertise in content protection and anti-piracy with the aim of putting pirates out of business and replacing them with legitimate providers.”

“NAGRA is constantly expanding its portfolio of content value protection technologies and services, and this contract marks a milestone in our commitment to support broadcasters and content creators in the protection of their content from piracy in foreign markets,” said Frederic Guitard, Vice President Media Security Services for NAGRA. “Developing automated, state-of-the-art tools to detect unauthorized streaming – especially on increasingly popular IPTV set-top boxes and Kodi add-ons – helps ensure we can take swift and decisive action against pirates and maintain the value of the services offered to IBCAP members.”

Since IBCAP’s collaboration with NAGRA in 2014, lawsuits supported by NAGRA, or related to foreign language anti-piracy initiatives, have resulted in federal courts in various states ordering providers and retailers of piracy services to cease their infringing activities and pay millions of dollars for violating IBCAP members’ copyrights.

As part of the expanded agreement, both IBCAP and NAGRA will implement various strategies focused on combatting the illegitimate use and distribution of international content in the United States. Activities on behalf of IBCAP include the establishment of a monitoring lab to monitor and detect unauthorized use of IBCAP member content and automated systems to monitor set-top boxes, websites, and other streaming platforms. NAGRA will detect servers providing IBCAP member content without authorization, including both linear feeds and VOD content, and take actions to have that content removed. NAGRA will also provide on-the-ground investigation services and enhanced litigation support tools. Within the next weeks, NAGRA’s investigation services will be focused on identifying retailers selling pirate services, educating them about the risks of selling those pirate services, and collecting evidence for future investigations and lawsuits.


5 arrested in Kodi box swoop

Recent crackdown in England and Wales on distributors of STBs with Kodi add-ons leads to five arrests

(February 23, 2016) — Five people in England and Wales were arrested on February 8, 2017 in connection with the alleged sale and distribution of internet streaming boxes that included apps and Kodi add-ons that provided unauthorized access to live sports, movies, and TV shows.

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