Popular pirate IPTV service Beast TV built one of the most recognizable brands the illicit sector had even seen. That level of recognition is good for business and also well known for attracting rightsholders’ attorneys.
In the dying weeks of 2020, Beast TV began to fail which not only fueled rumors of legal action, but also a series of counter-rumors claiming everything was fine and the service would be back online soon. Things were actually as far away from fine as one could imagine.
Behind the scenes it was already known that entertainment companies had formed a powerful coalition to take Beast TV down. Warner Bros., Amazon, Bell Media, Columbia, Disney, Netflix, Paramount, Sony Pictures, and Universal City Studios launched their action on October 2, 2020, before executing an ex parte injunction on November 24, 2020.
Beast’s operators – Tyler White and Colin Wright – were ordered to shut the service down, disclose technical information, and comply with a laundry list of additional demands and orders. Both were found guilty of contempt after failing to fully comply and in many cases, not complying at all.
The lawsuit is still ongoing and from court documents available to the public, it hasn’t been short on drama; at times it has even trended towards the surreal.
In the wake of “various aspects” of the Beast service being “migrated elsewhere”, and evidence being destroyed or simply withheld, the “dissipation” of at least CAD$344,000 is said to have frustrated the plaintiffs. In June 2023 after pleading guilty to contempt, White was sentenced to 60 days incarceration at a correctional facility in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
To prevent disruption to White’s job, the court agreed the sentence could “be served intermittently from Friday evenings at 6 p.m. until Monday mornings at 6 a.m.”
‘Rumors of Beast TV’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated’
With the lawsuit apparently nowhere near a conclusion even after three years, this summer Canada’s Federal Court noted that Tyler White had already spent at least CAD$400,000 defending the action. On that basis alone, it seems reasonable to assume that being associated with the Beast TV brand is something most people would seek to avoid.
For the alleged operators of channels4cheap.com and purchase-iptv.com, Beast TV branding is a prominent feature. According to an announcement on the site, posted almost three years ago in the wake of Beast TV’s demise, Beast didn’t actually die.
As the image above shows, efforts were being made late December 2020 to convince people that Beast TV wasn’t actually finished. That post is still in place today, minus a YouTube video that was removed for violating the platform’s terms of service.
Also intact are pages where people can subscribe to a Beast TV-branded IPTV service, perfect for those who enjoy the thrill of watching the same pirate IPTV streams as DISH Network’s piracy investigators.
DISH Lawsuit Incoming
According to a lawsuit filed Thursday at a Texas district court, DISH investigators made undercover purchases from the Channels4Cheap (C4C) website. That allowed the company to identify John Gwaka Magembe and Joyce Berry as the alleged operators of the C4C website.
“Defendants are trafficking in the Beast TV internet streaming television service a/k/a Channels4Cheap through their websites located at www.channels4cheap.com and its sister website www.purchase-iptv.com,” the complaint reads.
“Defendants sell Device Codes [subscriptions] to the Service on the C4C Website for $2 for a forty eight hour trial; $15 for one month; $40 for three months; $70 for six months; and $120 for twelve months, depending on the option selected by the user.”
How DISH came into possession of the evidence shown in the screenshot below is unclear; it appears to feature part of a reseller management interface carrying obviously sensitive information.
The screenshot references a Beast TV domain (beasthosts.com, confirmed as official in Canadian court documents), and data revealing a ‘John Magembe’ as a top 10 reseller of Beast TV subscriptions, presumably from a time when the platform was still in full swing.
The defendants face claims of violating the DMCA and breaches of the Federal Communications Act. DISH and fellow plaintiff Sling are seeking a permanent injunction plus actual or statutory damages, which could reach millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars, or potentially half a billion.
Predicting a precise amount is difficult in today’s settlement-rich environment but whatever happens, this lawsuit is still likely to be finished before the lawsuit in Canada concludes, but when that might be is anyone’s guess.
The complaint is available here (pdf)