DISH Network Sues Company Over “Pirate Streaming Service”

DISH Network LLC and NagraStar LLC filed a complaint on Monday in the Western District of New York against defendants UVConn Inc., DHE Boss Inc., and individual defendants collectively doing business at ZummTV and TVIPBOX, claiming that the defendants violated the Federal Communications Act (FCA) by retransmitting programming without DISH’s consent.

DISH, which operates a satellite pay TV service, and NagraStar, which provides “technology, security services and products” for DISH’s satellite pay TV service, alleged that TVIPBOX, “a purported software development and manufacturer for IPTV/OTT service providers,” and the ZummTV Entities (UVConn, DHE Boss, and ZummTV) have engaged in unlawful conduct. According to the plaintiffs, the individual defendants commingled assets among the ZummTV Entities in an effort to purportedly defraud the plaintiffs, while also transferring “valuable assets, property, rights and/or interests” to the individual defendants “without adequate consideration”; the individual defendants “drained the ZummTV Entities of substantial sums of money” and “failed to follow the formalities of corporate existence.”

DISH claimed that it “contracts for and purchases the rights to broadcast the television programming shown on its platforms” from various providers, and NagraStar “provides smart cards and other security technologies that form a conditional access system designed to control access to the DISH Programming and utilized to authorize a subscriber’s receipt of DISH’s satellite transmissions of its television programming.” However, the plaintiffs averred that the defendants run the allegedly infringing Internet Protocol television (IPTV) service ZummTV, which sells IPTV boxes that it calls “Plug-n-Play” boxes. The plaintiffs proffered that the defendants “make, use, import, sell and/or distribute products and services that include unauthorized retransmissions of DISH Programming.” Accordingly, the defendants “retransmit programming originating from DISH’s satellite communications to end users of their ZummTV pirate streaming service, without authorization.”

DISH stated that it hired an independent investigative firm to make two separate purchases “of a ZummTV receiver and IPTV service” from the defendants. DISH noted that the “first purchase consisted of a Z4 Prime IPTV receiver, along with device codes, providing for six months of access to the ZummTV IPTV service”; the firm purchased this for $528.80. The second purchase “consisted of a ZummTV S2 Prime IPTV receiver, along with device codes providing for twelve months of access to the ZummTV IPTV service” for $404.49. DISH claimed that when the ZummTV service was tested, “encoded messages delivered as part of DISH’s satellite communications were detected on the DISH Programming retransmitted on the ZummTV pirate streaming service, confirming that the DISH Programming provided by Defendants originated from DISH’s satellite communications and DISH’s subscriber accounts.”

The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants’ conduct has caused them irreparable reputational and financial harm and has harmed contractual and business relationships. The defendants are accused of violating the FCA.

The plaintiffs have sought a permanent injunction, an order authorizing the plaintiffs to take possession of and destroy all device codes and related equipment and for the defendants to preserve and turn over all records relating to the purported scheme, an award for damages, an award for costs and fees, and other relief.

DISH and NagraStar are represented by Coughlin & Gerhart LLP and Hagan Noll & Boyle LLC.