Copyright Watchdog – Dish Network Lawsuit Overview.
Here is the recent case that is grabbing a lot of headlines in the area of streaming TV law. If you received a legal demand letter from Dish Network aka NagraStar (or email via SATSCAMS) accusing you of pirating DISH signals or demanding $3,500-$7,500 or more in settlement BEFORE YOU PAY THEM call us for a free initial consultation. See our blog here. You have to take these types of letters serious and we can help you defend. Now back to our case.
Case allegations according to the lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Texas (Houston Division):
“DISH is the fourth largest pay-television provider in the United States and delivers copyrighted programming to millions of subscribers nationwide by means of satellite and over-the-top delivery (“OTT”) services whereby programming is delivered using a public Internet infrastructure. DISH's subscribers enjoy access to hundreds of video and audio channels, including a diverse line-up of international channels.”
Some of the allegations in the complaint include:
“DISH brings this suit for copyright infringement to stop the ZemTV service's unlawful retransmissions of television channels exclusively licensed to DISH throughout the United States. The ZemTV service is retransmitting these channels over the Internet to end-users that download the ZemTV add-on for the Kodi media player, which is available for download at the websites www.tvaddons.ag and www.tvaddons.org. Defendants profit from this scheme by encouraging ZemTV add-on users to make donations through Amazon or using PayPal at the site www.streamingboxes.com. DISH has not authorized Defendants to retransmit these channels or received any compensation from Defendants.”
“Pursuant to written agreements, DISH has the exclusive right to distribute and publicly perform in the United States the works that air on the Aaj Tak, Aastha Bhajan, Aastha TV, ARY Digital, ARY News, B4U Movies, B4U Music, Dunya TV, Express Entertainment, Express News, Geo News, Geo TV, Hum Masala, Hum Sitaray, Hum TV, India Today (Headlines Today), Movies OK, Sahara One, Sahara Samay, Times Now, and Zoom channels (collectively, the “Protected Channels”) by means including satellite, OTT, Internet protocol television (“IPTV”), and Internet. The written agreements were in effect at all relevant times and are currently in effect. The licensors of the Protected Channels acquire copyrights in the works that air on their respective channels, including by producing works and by assignment.”
The complaint then goes on to explain the alleged wrongful conduct of Defendant:
“Developer created the ZemTV add-on and manages and operates the ZemTV service. Upon information and belief, Developer: selects and locates the channels that are retransmitted on the ZemTV service; updates and posts new versions of the ZemTV add-on on www.tvaddons.ag and www.tvaddons.org; captures live broadcast signals of the Protected Channels outside the United States; transcodes these signals into a format useful for streaming over the Internet; and then uploads and transfers the transcoded content to computer servers that are controlled and maintained by Developer. Developer is unlawfully retransmitting the Protected Channels to ZemTV customers in the United States. The Protected Channels were observed during testing of the ZemTV service. The Protected Channels are also identified in the user interface that viewers navigate when accessing content on the ZemTV service through the ZemTV add-on, and on social media pages believed to be operated by Defendants and associated with the ZemTV service. The ZemTV service provides the Protected Channels through OTT delivery.
To access the ZemTV service, end-users must download the ZemTV add-on for their Kodi media player. The ZemTV add-on is available for download at www.tvaddons.ag or www.tvaddons.org. The ZemTV add-on is free to download, but Website Operators encourage end-users to make “donations” through Amazon or using PayPal at www.streamingboxes.com. Developer advises ZemTV customers that the sources of the works retransmitted on the ZemTV service “are bound to go down, taken away, be secured and [have] maintenance issues so [the ZemTV service] is not guaranteed [to] run 24/7; for that you would need [a] proper TV subscription.”
“DISH sent numerous notices of infringement to Internet service providers associated with the ZemTV service requesting the removal of the Protected Channels. Upon information and belief, these notices of infringement were forwarded to Developer. Even when Developer's Internet service providers removed unauthorized content or terminated Developer's accounts, Developer intentionally interfered with DISH's takedown efforts by, for example, retransmitting the Protected Channels using different Internet service providers or the same service providers with different servers or different Uniform Resource Locators (“URLs”).”
The Complaint then went on to allege copyright infringement
“Under 17 U.S.C. § 106, DISH holds the exclusive right to distribute and publicly perform in the United States, by means including satellite, OTT, IPTV, and Internet, the programs shown on the Protected Channels. The programs that make up the Protected Channels are original audiovisual works fixed in a tangible medium of expression, and are therefore copyrightable subject matter. DISH's copyrights in these programs arise under the laws of foreign nations that are parties to copyright treaties with the United States, including Pakistan and India, where the programs were authored and first published. Because the programs that make up the Protected Channels are non-United States works, registration with the United States Copyright Office is not a prerequisite to filing a copyright infringement action with respect to these works. 17 U.S.C. §§ 101, 411.”
“Developer distributes and publicly performs the copyrighted programs that air on the Protected Channels to users throughout the United States via the ZemTV service, in violation of DISH's exclusive rights under 17 U.S.C. § 106. DISH has not authorized Developer to distribute or publicly perform these programs in any manner. 19. Developer is directly infringing DISH's copyrights in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 501. Each infringement of DISH's rights in each audiovisual work constitutes a separate and distinct act of copyright infringement. Developer's acts are willful, malicious, intentional, purposeful, and in disregard of and with indifference to DISH's rights. Unless enjoined by the Court, Developer will continue to engage in acts causing substantial and irreparable injury to DISH that includes damage to its reputation, goodwill, and lost sales, for which there is no adequate remedy at law.”
We will keep an eye on this case and see how it develops.
Watch Attorney Steve® Explain Nagrastar lawsuits in this letter (Dish settlements)
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