DISH Wins $26.5m Pirate IPTV Judgment But Might Not Get a Penny

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DISH Network has won yet another significant damages award following a lawsuit filed against a pirate IPTV supplier. The U.S. broadcaster filed a complaint against My Indian TV in August 2021, but the service stayed online until this April. DISH will now take control of the service's domains but whether it will see any of the $26.5m awarded by a New York court remains to be seen.

cashFollowing more than a year of legal action, DISH Network has booked yet another big money win against yet another pirate IPTV provider targeting the United States.

DISH filed its complaint against My Indian TV in a New York district in August 2021, describing the defendant as a global pirate television service. The broadcaster said that the IPTV platform transmitted channels originating from India and Pakistan to customers in the United States, violating the exclusive licenses it holds for the entire country.

Subscriptions to My Indian TV were advertised on Twitter and YouTube. Starting at $14.95 per month, customers were promised HD quality via browsers, Android and iOS apps, and a custom Kodi addon. After attempts by DISH to shut the IPTV service down came to nothing, the company responded with its lawsuit alleging direct copyright infringement (17 U.S. Code § 106) and secondary infringement in 177 registered works.

DISH Awarded $26.5m in Copyright Infringement Damages

In a judgment handed down yesterday by District Court Judge J. Paul Oetken, two operators of My Indian TV are found directly and secondarily liable for infringing DISH’s exclusive rights to distribute and perform the licensed channels and the copyrighted programs within.

The Court found that the defendants captured the programs and converted them to “internet-friendly” formats, transmitted them to subscribers in the United States, and unlawfully publicly performed and distributed the copyrighted content.

By marketing and advertising My Indian TV as a piracy service, knowingly facilitating subscriber access, and knowingly inducing infringement of DISH’s exclusive rights, the defendants demonstrated willfulness and actual knowledge of their infringing activities, the judgment adds.

The Court found the defendants jointly and severally liable for each act of infringement because they “personally directed, authorized, supervised, or participated in, and financially benefited from” infringing conduct. Describing that conduct as willful, malicious, intentional, and purposeful, they were hit with an injunction and ordered to pay damages of $150,000 for each of the 177 registered works, $26,550,000 overall.

IBCAP Celebrates Big Win

The International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy (IBCAP) today celebrated the award on behalf of member and plaintiff, DISH Network.

IBCAP says it coordinated and supported the lawsuit against My Indian TV and welcomes the broad injunction. It prohibits future infringement such as sales and marketing, and restrains hosting companies and CDNs from providing services facilitating such infringement. On top, domain name registries and registrars must transfer the IPTV service’s domains to DISH.

“This case marks yet another victory where IBCAP coordinated a lawsuit with its member companies resulting in the shutdown of a major pirate service in the U.S.,” says Chris Kuelling, executive director of IBCAP.

“With broad injunctive tools such as prohibitions against CDNs and hosting providers supporting the pirate service, banning retailers from selling the pirate services and transfers of key domain names used by the pirate operators, we can cripple pirate services to a point where they have no choice but to exit the market.”

DISH and IBCAP are clearly pleased that My Indian TV is now offline, something that appears directly attributable to the lawsuit. Yesterday’s injunction will also help to stop My Indian TV from reestablishing itself but, in this case, it wasn’t responsible for the service exiting the market.

Lawsuit Was a Massive But One-Sided Effort

When DISH filed its complaint more than a year ago, the company revealed it had no idea who it was targeting because the defendants had taken “elaborate steps” to conceal their identities. A two-year investigation revealed account names and IP addresses but what DISH really needed was real names and physical addresses. Expedited discovery against third-party entities doing business with My Indian TV might turn those up. The court agreed.

On March 30, 2022, DISH filed an amended complaint naming Sanjeev Kumar and Tsvetomir Dobrilov as the alleged operators of My Indian TV and just over a week later permission was granted to serve both via email. Just days later, users began complaining that the service had gone down unexpectedly. According to DNS records, My Indian TV was last seen on April 13, 2022, and it hasn’t been seen since.

DISH Network’s motion for default judgment was served on Kumar and Dobrilov by sending a link to a Dropbox folder, as instructed by the Court. There’s no indication that there was a better way to contact the men or that DISH has since obtained their physical addresses, wherever they are in the world.

That raises the question of whether $26.5 million in damages will ever find their way to DISH. Given its track record, the company seems unlikely to give up trying.

The original complaint and default judgment can be found here (1,2, pdf)


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