Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Crime and Punishment: DirecTV Suing Consumers Directly reports:

Thousands of satellite television "pirates" in Florida and across North America are under attack by lawyers for DirecTV who have filed hundreds of federal lawsuits against consumers who allegedly bought mail-order decoders enabling them to steal the company's digital programming.

In U.S. District Court in South Florida, more than 300 suits were filed in May alone against consumers in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. And many more actions are on the way -- both locally and elsewhere, according to a spokesman for DirecTV.

The new wave of litigation is the latest move by Los Angeles-based DirecTV in the Internet war between the company and satellite pirates looking to tap in for free. So-called "pirate Web sites" that sell decoders and advocate their use sometimes cast the fight as a matter of freedom of access to information. One site even taunts DirecTV for its "ineffective" strategy to solve "their tremendous piracy problem."

"What they want is freedom to steal," said DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer.

[ . . .]

DirecTV is demanding that violators be ordered to pay $10,000 in damages for each "pirate access device" purchased by a defendant, plus $850 in attorney fees. The $10,000 figure is the amount of damages that's provided for in federal law.
I can live with that. People who steal ought to be held accountable under the law.

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