DISH Network, L.L.C. v. Sonicview USA, Inc., No. 09–cv–1553–L(WVG), 2012 WL 1965279, slip op. (S.D. Cal. May 31, 2012)
In a motion for summary judgment, the Southern District of California found Sonicview, makers of satellite receivers designed to decrypt secure signals, violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) as well as the Federal Communications Act. DISH Network, L.L.C. v. Sonicview USA, Inc., No. 09–cv–1553–L(WVG), 2012 WL 1965279, slip op. (S.D. Cal. May 31, 2012). Satellite Company DISH Network and two of its affiliates sued Sonicview alleging that their receivers allowed pirates to obtain DISH Network signals without authorization by circumventing DISH Network’s encryption system. The DMCA prohibits the manufacture of any technology which “is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected [by copyright].” Although the Sonicvew’s receivers themselves did not contain the necessary software to decrypt the signals, the court found that Sonicview’s receivers could serve no other legitimate purpose but pirating satellite signals. The court also found Sonicview liable under the Federal Communications Act which prohibits a person from manufacturing or distributing any device or equipment knowing that the device is primarily used in the unauthorized decryption of satellite signals. Because the three officers of the company were directly involved and “guiding spirits” in the wrongful conduct, the court found they were not shielded from liability and held them directly liable for Sonicview’s violations. The court awarded the plaintiffs over $64 million in damages and issued a permanent injunction.
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