Last year the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), an anti-piracy partnership forged between Hollywood studios, Netflix, Amazon, and others, sued Florida-based SET Broadcast, LLC.
At the time, the company offered a popular software-based IPTV service and also sold pre-loaded set-top boxes.
While it was marketed as a legal service, according to ACE members SET TV’s software was little more than a pirate tool, allowing buyers to stream copyright-infringing content.
“Defendants market and sell subscriptions to ‘Setvnow,’ a software application that Defendants urge their customers to use as a tool for the mass infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted motion pictures and television shows,” the complaint read.
Initially, SET TV hired an attorney who informed the court that it had stopped offering its service and subscriptions. At the same time, it denied the copyright infringement allegations. After this initial response, however, things went quiet.
SET TV stopped responding, even to requests for payments from its own lawyer, who eventually withdrew from the case. This lack of progress eventually prompted the copyright holders to request a default judgment.
According to Netflix, Amazon and the Hollywood studios, SET TV is guilty of willful copyright infringement. The service caused their entire business model “immense damage” and to compensate these losses, they requested the maximum statutory damages for a total of 51 works.
After a careful review of the paperwork, US District Judge Michael Fitzgerald sided with the copyright holders.
In a default judgment released this week, the court orders SET TV to pay $7,650,000. This reflects the maximum statutory damages of $150,000 for each of the 51 works that were infringed by the defunct IPTV provider.
The Judge notes that awarding the maximum amount of damages is appropriate in this case, as the 51 works are just a small fraction of the actual number works that were infringed.
“Thus, the actual damages in this case would likely be astronomically higher than the measure provided by the maximum statutory damages for the furnished representative works,” Judge Fitzgerald writes.
In addition to the damages, the Court also issued a permanent injunction to prevent any future copyright infringement. Among other things, SET TV is prohibited from operating its Settv now service, as well as any website, system, software, or service that is substantially similar.
Karen Thorland, Senior Vice President & Deputy General Counsel at the MPAA, which is also part of ACE, is happy with the outcome.
“SetTVNow and other piracy outfits threaten millions of creators, damage economic growth, and hurt consumers,” Thorland says.
“The victory over SetTVNow is a great step forward to reducing the piracy of movies and television shows, including the theft of live TV. It also continues ACE’s legal and operational victories, which continue to protect the legitimate market for creative content,” she adds.
Whether SET TV, which is incorporated as Set Broadcast LLC, can pay the full damages is unknown. The company previously reached a settlement with Dish last November, agreeing to pay more than $90 million in damages. Considering this, it’s doubtful that there is much money left.
A copy of the default judgment against Set Broadcast LLC is available here (pdf).