US Pay-TV Piracy Gets Korean Businessman US$28 million Fine

Antipiracy website reports that a US court in San Diego has ordered Korean businessman Soo Jong Yeo and his company Vicxon Corp fined US$28 million for shipping internet-key-sharing boxes to the USA. The case was brought by North American pay-TV provider Dish Network/Echostar, whose program bouquet could be intercepted by the key-sharing devices. It was a follow-on to a 2012 decision which already saw the US leaders of this piracy conspiracy fined $64 million, bringing the total fines in this set of cases to $92 million.

See here for the story.

The legal reasoning in these case was interesting: the court recorded violations of the US Digital Milennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which prohibits marketing, importing, distributing, etc. etc. of circumvention devices, components, software or technology. And it said that the fact that the set-top-boxes in question might theoretically have been used to receive satellite FTA programming was not relevant. “Downstream customers’ lawful or fair use of circumvention devices does not relieve [the defendant] from liability for trafficking of such devices under DMCA,” because the “receiver and iHub have several firmware and hardware components that serve limited or no legitimate purpose other than circumvention of DISH Network’s security system.” The fine was calculated by reference to the DMCA’s minimum statutory damages of US$200 per violation. (At least several hundred thousand pirate boxes were imported and sold by the conspirators.)

Unfortunately, a simple internet search still reveals many current offers for the same piracy equipment on China-based internet sales sites, all specifying they are for shipment to the USA. The import ring may have been busted in the USA, but the China piracy export machine chugs ahead……no doubt with profits to the Korean owners!

For those interested in more information, the Summary Judgment of the US court can be downloaded here.