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back to article Judge awards Dish Network $51m from satellite pirate

A federal judge has slapped a $51m judgment on a Florida man for distributing software that allowed people to receive television programming from Dish Network without paying for it. The ruling, issued Monday by US District Judge James S. Moody Jr. of Tampa, found that Robert Ward violated both the Digital Millennium Copyright …

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Pirate

Ridiculous

1. how much the judge was paid to renter this flawed rulling.

2. dammage cannot be mesured by D/L (i can see the most dangerous terrorist organisation on the planet, salivating at this ruling: the MPAA)

3. This will not stop piracy in any way.

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Ok, I'll bite...

Please can you justify your statements?

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Paris Hilton

Ouch! Raw nerve alert!

Ouch baby! Ouch!

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FAIL

[This title is intentionally blank]

"According to Moody's order, Ward made multiple online posts in which he shared his name, date of birth, telephone number, street address, and email address."

Not the smartest knife in the drawer, huh?

Seems like a heck of a lot of money, too. I wonder how they intend to extract it from him?

So, fail on both sides, really.

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Silver badge

<untitled>

"Not the smartest knife in the drawer, huh?"

Yet he managed to make firmware to circumvent programming encryption?!?

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Smart knife

I think you meant "Not the sharpest knife in the drawer".

I am not a pedant, I am a free man.

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Silver badge

Me?

Did somebody call?

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Irony

How ironic, they take someone to court over "theft" but Dish has been stealing IP from Tivo for years.

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Silver badge
WTF?

'Substantial and unquantifiable harm'?

According to http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-10237403-94.html

"Things were looking up for satellite TV provider Dish Networks in the first quarter of 2009, with sales and earnings on the rise, the company reported Monday.

"Sales grew 2.1 percent to $2.91 billion for the quarter ended March 31 versus $2.84 billion for the same quarter in 2008. Earnings climbed to $313 million, or 70 cents a share, up from $259 million, or 58 cents a share a year ago."

The amount this man has been fined is approximately 1.75% of Dish Network's quarterly turnover even though "Dish faces a more competitive playing field, not just from fellow satellite provider DirecTV, but also from cable and phone companies offering low-cost TV service."

So obviously it's all this guy's fault that their sales didn't grow more and nothing to do with Dish Network "facing a more competitive playing field".

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FAIL

The law is an Ass

When laws are seen to be unreasonable, people tend to ignore them and the only reasonable way to govern is with the acceptance of the people. "Sending messages" is not good government.

Daft judgments result bring the law into disrepute and people start to disdain law enforcement in general. That's bad for everyone. The general populace should be angry with such judgments (and the laws behind them) in the same way it should be laughing at the pants bomber.

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Anonymous Coward

$693 M would have been good

I can live with the $51 M fine if the perp does at least 10 years in prison.

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The fine might be outrageous

But then this was the US, what do you expect. However this guy was deliberately giving away software that sabotages the business model of this Dish Network. What would you have them do? Sit back and absorb the loss of revenue or drag him to court and get him to stop.

It still staggers me how many people blindly think that ripping off (or helping others to rip off) others intellectual property is somehow OK. Music, Books, Video, and now video network access.

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Badgers

You wouldn't download a car

'Substantial and unquantifiable harm'

So if it's unquantifiable how did they manage to set a figure?

"We don't know how much damage you've done so we'll just call it $69 million shall we? Good, that's agreed then".

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What about the DS users?

Surely the ones who actually used the software to view channels illegally should be stumping up the cash. After all, he only gave them the means to pirate DS. Of course, if life made any sense, all gun manufacturers would be fined for the people who die as a result of the use of their products.

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Life makes more sense than that

You wouldn't be able to run an army or police force on that basis. Would you consider the same policy for car manufacturers?

As a gun user, I carry ten million pounds worth of public liability insurance. I get it free with my membership of The Sportsman's Association, which itself costs only 40 pounds a year. The reason so much coverage is so cheap it that they almost never have to pay a claim.

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Anonymous Coward

No adequate remedy

Errr, if your access control has been compromised surely its time to go back to the drawing board and maybe add some strong encryption?

I'd imagine it must have been fairly simplistic to begin with although of course there is little excuse for breaking the law in this way.

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Errrr . . .

. . . the judge needs a lesson in the English language.

"caused substantial and unquantifiable harm"

If the harm isn't quantifiable, how can you fine the person an amount of money, determined by a direct calculation ?

More-over, have the company since made changes such that this hack can no longer be performed ? If they haven't, then the case should be thrown out, on the grounds that, having been shown to have a flaw in their system, they chose to leave it open and sue, rather than fix the problem.

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Flame

I don't get it

This guy wrote software that intercepted a line of communications that enabled people to watch pay TV for free thereby depriving the company of income which is used to procure that content.

If the same guy wrote software that intercepted communications with your bank such that it enabled people to transfer your money out of your account, without your control, then that would also be ok yes?

Some commentors here really need to think (if they can) this through....

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Coffee/keyboard

Not the same at all

data is not money.

If it took money from your bank then it's theft - it has taken something from you.

In this case the people just have some more information/data that they may or may not have paid for, but in doing so have not deprived anyone of this information.

I think you need to think it through (if you can)

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Thumb Down

same thing actualy

yes it's exactly the same, because producing that content costs money. That money was paid for, and it's not coming back in the form of revenues. So people do loose money! It's essentialy the same thing. Somebody steals the money from your back account, or they simply steal your salary even before it gets to your bank account. Either way you don't get the money you worked for, do you? Do you like working for free?

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FAIL

Assumption

but only if you assume that all those people who downloaded the software:-

1. Would have paid for satellite

2. Can actually afford to pay for satellite

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J@eremy 2

Time to roll out the Asberger's defense.

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Anonymous Coward

Good luck collecting on that $51M

see title

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What's the point?

Regardless that the damages are suspect, he's never going to earn $51 million dollars, so it cannot be repaid. So, what's the point?

With a $51 million debt to repay you may as well sit on your arse for the rest of your life or leave the country. How does that help society?

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This post has been deleted by its author

Stop

The judge said it was unquantifiable,

so if it's quantifiable, the judge's judgement has to be considered very suspect.

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Flame

Significant Flaw in Product.

From what I can see there is a significant flaw in this DN product... that flaw is that it is not a tangible product.

Consider this scenario:

Company sells air fo $$$

Man points out that air is free and all around you

Company sues man for $$$$$$$$$

Man has debt for $$$$$$$$$$

Company wants to take out order preventing Man from pointing out air is all around you.

Surely this company is askign for trouble by leavign thier valuables open to every oportunistic passer by. If I left a pile of my money in my front garden (yes mine on my property) do you think the legal system would be the slightest bit interested if it 'went missing'?? I know the cops wouldn't give a hoot.

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Stealing by finding

The legal system would cover the example you give. Someone taking anything from your garden (gnome, mower, pile of cash) would be stealing. You can even be guilty of theft for finding a pile of cash or other valuable on the public roadway, if you don't turn it in to the police and wait for the owner to claim it (after a given time, it becomes yours).

As for the cops giving a hoot, it was ever so.

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Well

I always get annoyed with huge fines - Especially when figures are pulled out of thin air.

In this case, however, it's not some student with 6 MP3s, it's someone who ahs specifically gone out of his way to break the law repeatedly over a long period of time - So although I disagree with the sum charged, it should be big enough to give him a moment of pause.

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What's the software called?

Where can one get this and does it still work or did they implement countermeasures?

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Sly
FAIL

comment-tards...

The total harm done would be unquantifiable as the dissemination of the download after the fact could not be tracked. There's also no telling how many shared this via sneaker-net. (For those who don't know the term, it means to walk from one computer to another to copy a file over. Back in the day this was done with cards, tapes, floppies, etc, but now USB drives are the norm.) They also don't know if it was shared via P2P nets. So it is unquantifiable on the whole. They can quantify a part, hence the judgment for the $51M. Now that the terminology has been explained to you, you may return to your TV watching and continue dumbing yourselves down.

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Thumb Up

good for him

now he can declare bankruptcy and do it all over.

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Is that possible?

I know you can't declare bankruptcy on student loans in the states so I would find it surprising if he was allowed to declare bankruptcy on this judgment. Any lawyers among us who could answer?

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Bronze badge

@ good for him

Except for bankruptcy does not absolve you of court fines

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Anonymous Coward

The reason for ths large damages

Is simply so that an appropriate precedent is set (or adhered to).

Sure they will never get their 51 mill, they will arrive at a deal with the guy for enough to make sure he doesn't profit and to make things difficult for him in future, but the important point is that the figure has been set by the courts *determined on the legally defined losses incurred*.

Damages in civil cases are designed to rectify the losses suffered by the plaintiff and so are based solely on the agreed amount of loss (damage) incurred. Whether the defendant is capable of paying or not is irrelevant in determining the loss the plaintiff suffered, clearly.

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WTF?

Download != Theft

When the DVD CSS hack was released I went looking for it (and I think I found it, its been a while). I never actually used it, I was just curious. Everyone here is assuming every download was actually used to steal from Dish Networks.

I did the same thing with some software for saving XM Satellite radio to your HDD and busting out the songs. As soon as a lawsuit was announced seeking to stop the distribution of the software I went looking for it and downloaded it just in case I wanted it in the future. I didn't even have XM at the time and have never used the software.

These guys are idiots if their signal is so easy to steal. And theft of a signal incurs no loss to the transmitter. The odds are most of the people who actually used the software NEVER would have payed for the service. Its like people who download thousands of MP3 files that they will probably never even listen to. It is not an actual loss to anyone. Everyone please continue to drum up your false righteous indignation.

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FAIL

Just stupid

I mean.. I'm just guessing here, but the chances are he doesn't have 59 million, let along 600.. so it's all a pointless exercise anyway.

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Ripping off

@Iggle Piggle

I hope you have permission from the BBC to use the name Iggle Piggle or are you ripping off their intellectual property?

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Silver badge
Happy

<pedantic>

On the BBC's website, it is written "Igglepiggle", one word.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/inthenightgarden/songs/igglepiggle/

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