If Dish Network gets its way, a Skokie man would have to pay $10,000 or more in damages over claims he pirated the company's satellite television service through an online subscription service.
On June 10, Dish Network and affiliated companies, EchoStar Technologies and NagraStar, all based in Englewood, Colo., filed suit in Chicago's federal court against Edmund Lau of Skokie, alleging he, as an end user of an online service, obtained virtually unlimited access to all of Dish Network’s TV services without paying.
In its complaint, Dish Network claims Lau’s alleged actions violate at least three federal telecommunications laws, including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and warrant a court order forcing him pay it $10,000 to more than $100,000.
Dish Network said actions like the ones it assets Lau committeed have cost the company unspecified large sums of money to combat the theft of its television signals through constant digital security upgrades and litigation against those accused of pirating its distribution of subscription-based TV channels.
The suit against Lau comes amid a series of suits brought by Dish Network against alleged TV service pirates employing crafty methods to descramble and view television signals transmitted via Dish Network’s and EchoStar’s satellite network.
According to published reports, Dish Network has managed to secure awards of at least $10,000 against other end users who, like Lau, subscribed to the services run by others.
Dish Network indicates in its recently-filed suit that it believes Lau obtained the allegedly pirated signals through an online service known as IKS Rocket, which is accused of improperly distributing Dish’s passcodes and control words.
According to the suit, information necessary to allow receivers to descramble and display Dish Network’s satellite TV feeds is at first properly obtained through multiple subscribed “smart card” receivers connected to Dish’s feed.
But, the company alleges, the information is then transmitted by a server through the Internet to an add-on dongle or built-in Ethernet port on receivers owned by subscribers to the IKS service.
The improperly shared control words and codes then allow IKS subscribers “unlimited access to Dish Network programming, including premium and pay-per-view channels, causing lost revenues that cannot be fully calculated.”
Dish Network contends it obtained records from the man believed to have run the IKS Rocket service, who is identified in the complaint as Thomas Dixon and is alleged to have also gone by the user names of Wufman and firstname.lastname@example.org.
The company asserts those records indicate Lau paid for an annual subscription to IKS twice, first in November 2011 and again in November 2012.
Dish Network has asked the federal court to issue an injunction against Lau to prevent him from continuing to improperly access its programming, and to compel him to turn over all the equipment he allegedly used to pirate its signal.
The company also wants the court to award damages of $2,500 for “each violation” of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act; from $10,000 to $100,000 for each violation of the Federal Communications Act; and $100 per day or $10,000 for each violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
The plaintiffs are being represented in the action by Chicago attorney David M. Lewin and Texas attorney Stephen M. Ferguson of Hagan, Noll & Boyle LLC.