A lawsuit was filed by DISH Network against the illegal IPTV service VNest TV names a Las Vegas company, and its owner. DISH says that the service offers more than 5,000 channels. Some came from its satellite feeds and others from Sling T.V.’s online broadcasts. DISH thinks that VNest TV got channels from Nitro T.V., a service that was recently fined more than $100 million.
DISH Network, Sling T.V., and their tech partner Nagrastar are not letting up on their efforts to stop pirate IPTV services.
Last month, the companies won a $100 million judgment against the former operators of the illegal IPTV service Nitro T.V. Unsurprisingly, another lawsuit has been filed in the United States against a service that may be connected to Nitro.
Lawsuit Targets VNest TV
The company’s latest lawsuit against piracy was filed in a Nevada court. It goes after a company in Las Vegas called Ventura’s Nest L.L.C. and a Las Vegas resident named Santina Fulton. He is said to be the company’s only manager.
The plaintiffs claim that Fulton is behind a fake IPTV service called VNest TV. The service, also called VNest IPTV, was sold through several domains, such as vnestiptv.com and venturasnest.com. DISH thinks Fulton registered the domains, and old WHOIS records back this up.
“Defendants advertised VNest TV as a subscription-based service providing more than 5,000 channels, movies, sports programs, and other premium content, all for a low monthly fee,” the complaint reads.
“According to Defendants, VNest TV offers ‘the best content and up time than anyone else in the business.’ VNest TV advertising emphasized converting customers from legitimate cable or satellite services, such as those provided by DISH, by encouraging customers to ‘cut the cord’.”
After the complaint was filed, VNest’s sites went offline. Still, copies from the past show that $20 monthly subscription packages were available. A subscription for a year costs $180.
VNest TV Was Told to Shut Down But Warning Was Ignored
The plaintiffs say that some of VNest TV’s content came from unlicensed streams. Taken from DISH Network’s satellite broadcasts and content taken directly from servers controlled by partner Sling T.V. Some of these channels came from Nitro T.V., a pirate IPTV platform that owes DISH more than $100 million in damages for its rebroadcasting scheme. The complaint says that “numerous” channels came from Nitro T.V.
It doesn’t look like it was hard to figure out that Fulton ran VNest TV. As the image below shows, investigators for the plaintiffs signed up for the service. They used PayPal and Venmo to make two test payments. When the information from the payment receipts is put together, it’s enough to show company and personal names and connections to social media accounts.
Even though VNest TV’s operator was in a lot of trouble, at least one notice from the plaintiffs to stop was ignored. The complaint says that the defendants knew as early as October 2021 that their service broke federal laws, but the platform kept running.
Plaintiffs are asking for compensation and a court order.
In the complaint, the infringement claims are based on violations of the Federal Communications Act (content from DISH satellite broadcasts). Also, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (content from Sling’s servers).
DISH says that VNest TV broke 47 U.S. Code 605(a) by accessing unauthorized communications for financial gain. They also willingly sold access to these communications against 47 U.S.C. 605(e) (4).
The plaintiffs also say that the DMCA’s anti-circumvention measures (17 U.S.C. 1201(a)(2)) have been broken. In the complaint, it is noted that Sling’s content is protected by DRM technologies like Google’s Widevine DRM, Apple’s FairPlay DRM, and Microsoft’s PlayReady DRM. Because of this, the plaintiffs are allowed to sue for damages.
It’s impossible to say for sure how much the plaintiffs might be able to get. If the F.C.A. was broken on purpose, each violation could cost up to $110,000. Each DMCA violation can cost up to $2,500 in statutory damages. So after adding up, the total amount of damages could easily be in the tens of millions.
In the meantime, DISH, Sling, and Nagrastar are trying to get an injunction and an order that VNest TV gives them all of its domains and business records.