IBCAP, a nonprofit that fights piracy, is celebrating a $5.7m triumph against a U.S. vendor of illicit IPTV devices. The massive pirate IPTV business behind the device vendor seems to be going strong, even if it’s being sued. And if certain Middle Eastern leaders are influenced, that may still be the case.
U.S. broadcaster DISH Network sued for copyright violation in September 2021.
Two defendant groups were targeted. Atlas Electronics in Michigan and owner Alaa Al-Emara sold unlicensed IPTV services. iStar Company made the iStar set-top boxes and maintained the iStar IPTV service Atlas offered with owner Ahmed Karim.
In the complaint, there were direct and indirect copyright infringement claims against iStar Company and Ahmed Karim. Also, an indirect copyright infringement claim against Atlas Electronics and Alaa Al-Emara. In conclusion, the lawsuit asked for an injunction and more than $24 million in damages.
When DISH sent infringement notices, they got a lot of bad reactions, so they couldn’t be expected to settle for less.
Lawsuit Progressed Slowly
Since the complaint was ignored, DISH filed for a default judgment in 2022. The court offered the defendants six extensions to file an answer or respond, but after the seventh extension, it stopped.
A note from the court on June 28 said that the two sides were close to making a deal. On July 15, District Judge Laurie J. Michelson signed off on a judgment and permanent injunction, giving DISH what looks like a big money win.
$5.7 Million in Copyright Infringement Damages
The decision and injunction named Atlas Electronics Inc. and its owner Alaa Al-Emara. It states the corporation and its owner broke the Copyright Act and 17 U.S.C. 501 with over 160 copyrighted works. They encouraged and facilitated copyright violations.
“DISH is awarded damages of $5,740,000 jointly and severally against Defendants pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 504(c), which consists of $35,000 for each of DISH’s 164 registered, copyrighted works that Defendants infringed,” the judgment reads.
The injunction applies to Atlas Electronics Inc. and its owner Alaa Al-Emara. It makes it illegal to “transmit, stream, distribute, or publicly perform in the U.S.” any protected DISH programming “with any iStar set-top box, service subscription, or other device.”
The restrictions also say that the named defendants can’t give away, sell, or promote iStar set-top boxes and IPTV subscriptions if they violate DISH’s rights. As injunctions go, it’s pretty standard, but a few things start to stand out.
DISH and the defendants pay their legal fees and costs in this case. People who win cases prefer getting the other side’s money. In the big picture, it’s not a huge problem.
No Mention of The Big Guys
It is essential to show that Atlas Electronics Inc. is a bad company that sells illegal devices and subscriptions. The much bigger problem is that there doesn’t seem to be anything that can be done about iStar and the illegal IPTV service it is said to offer under the brand name “Online T.V.”
Since 2006, iStar has been a big problem for broadcasters. In a report sent to the USTR in October, beIN mentioned the Iraq-based service. In 2022, beIN said that iStar could not be shut down because it was connected to the Iraqi government.
“beIN understands that the owners and operators of Earthlink, Chaloos, and iStar [three major Iraqi piracy operators] have significant influence among Iraqi government officials, both at the federal and regional levels,” the broadcaster wrote.
“This further supports the conclusion that there is little hope that the widespread piracy by these entities could be reduced or eliminated through the use of either civil or criminal judicial procedures in Iraq.”
Why DISH Network sued iStar anyway is unclear. DISH and beIN are part of IBCAP, the International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy. With that kind of power, there’s no doubt that the necessary information would have been available at the time. We may never know.
At the moment, IBCAP is celebrating its win against a retailer and not talking about how the big target got away, at least for now.
The domain names that DISH wanted to get as a result of the lawsuit are still online and seem to be selling devices and illegal IPTV subscriptions through WhatsApp, so there is no need for a retailer in the United States.