Video services

Dish Awarded $90M in Video Piracy Case

In a settlement that highlights a growing threat to pay-TV service providers, a Florida court has ordered alleged video piracy service and set-top supplier SetTV to pay $90 million in damages to Dish Network and NagraStar, and to hand over hardware that was used to retransmit Dish programming without authorization.

Per the October 24 judgement (posted by TorrentFreak), the defendants (Set Broadcast LLC and two individuals, Nelson Johnson and Jason LaBossiere), were ordered to pay damages of $90.19 million, equating to $500 for each of the 180,398 SetTV subs that were provided unauthorized access to Dish programming using the SetTV streaming service.

The order also enjoins SetTV from receiving and retransmitting Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH)'s satellite and OTT programming feeds without authorization and from manufacturing, selling and distributing passcodes, set-top boxes, apps and other devices intended to receive or help receive unauthorized Dish transmissions.

SetTV is also to hand over all SetTV-branded set-tops that correspond with its network of resellers and affiliates.

Before shutting down earlier this year, SetTV was selling a package of more than 500 channels starting at $20 per month using an app for Android TV boxes, Amazon Fire TV devices, Android phones and web browsers. SetTV was also selling a pre-loaded Kodi set-top for $89 and had set up its own reseller and affiliate program.

Dish and NagraStar brought the hammer down on SetTV, which pitched a cheap alternative to traditional pay-TV services.
Dish and NagraStar brought the hammer down on SetTV, which pitched a cheap alternative to traditional pay-TV services.

Dish and NagraStar (the Dish/EchoStar-Nagra video security joint venture) weren't the only ones going after SetTV. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), a legal coalition backed by Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), Hulu LLC and several major studios and programmers, filed a suit against SetTV in April.

ACE, on behalf of its members, has ramped up its offensive against individuals believes to be supplying repositories and Kodi "add-ons" that can deliver unauthorized movies, TV shows and live programming feeds. ACE has also targeted TickBox and Dragonbox, entities accused of selling fully-loaded Kodi streaming devices that can access live channels and package them into services that look and feel like legitimate pay-TV offerings. (See Netflix-Backed ACE Sinks Another Video Piracy Threat and TickBox to Pay $25M to Settle Video Piracy Lawsuit .)

This level of legal activity accentuates a troubling threat to pay-TV providers as well as studios and individual programmers. While open source Kodi software is legal on its own, devices sold and distributed with these add-ons represent a source of piracy that has proven difficult for service providers and content players to rein in as illegal repositories constantly spring up.

While it's unlikely that SetTV will end up paying the full amount of the court order, the judgment will likely "act as a deterrent" to video pirates, noted TorrentFreak, a site dedicated to piracy, privacy, and copyright issues.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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