California bankruptcy court holds piracy judgment against Prosonicview owner Christopher Whitcomb non-dischargeable
On September 17, 2012 the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of California ruled in favor of DISH Network, EchoStar Technologies and NagraStar in their long-running battle against Prosonicview owner Christopher Whitcomb. DISH Network filed suit against Whitcomb and his Prosonicview business in February 2011 alleging multiple violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), Federal Communications Act, and the Electronics Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”). On July 19, 2011 the District Court entered final judgment against Whitcomb, ordered him to pay DISH Network and NagraStar $14.4 million dollars in statutory damages, and issued a permanent injunction against him. In October 2011 the District Court entered an order finding Whitcomb in contempt of the injunction and cautioned him that any further violations would result in his imprisonment. In an effort to avoid the monetary judgment against him, Whitcomb filed bankruptcy under Chapter 7 in January 2012. DISH Network opposed the discharge of the $14.4 million judgment against Whitcomb and on September 17 the Bankruptcy Court ruled in favor of DISH Network, holding the entirety of the judgment non-dischargeable pursuant to sections 523(a)(4) and (a)(6) of Title 11 of the United States Code. DISH Network is pleased with the Court’s ruling and will aggressively pursue execution of the judgment against Whitcomb and any business entities in which he has an interest.
California Federal Court Enters Summary Judgment Against Sonicview Defendants, Awards $64.9 Million in Damages and Issues Permanent Injunction
On May 31, 2012 the United States District Court for the Southern District of California issued an Order finding Sonicview receivers, i-Hub dongles and A-1 modules violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as well as the Federal Communications Act. The Court’s Order granted motions for summary judgment filed by DISH Network and NagraStar and denied cross-motions for summary adjudication filed by the Sonicview corporate entity and various individual defendants and officers of the company. The Court found Sonicview and its individual officers (Bobby Sanz, Alan Phu and Danial Pierce) jointly and severally liable for statutory damages in the amount of $64.9 Million dollars payable to DISH Network, NagraStar and EchoStar Technologies, and found Sonicview distributors Duane and Courtney Bernard jointly and severally liable for statutory damages in the amount of $984,800.00, and ruled that the damage award was non-dischargeable in Duane Bernard’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding. The Court Ordered defendants to destroy all remaining inventory of Sonicview receivers, i-Hubs and A-1 modules, and entered a permanent injunction against all defendants to prevent future violations. DISH Network and NagraStar are pleased with the Court’s ruling and intend to vigorously pursue collection and enforcement remedies.
On March 12, 2012 the United States District Court for the Central District of California entered a temporary restraining order against the owners and operators of the piracy-based websites www.ftaforall.us, www.ftaforall.info, www.ftaforall.net, and www.ftaforall.biz (“Defendants”). DISH Network, NagraStar and EchoStar filed suit against the websites and its Defendants for claims arising under the DMCA, Communications Act and ECPA. The Court’s Order required immediate lockdown and preservation of the websites, which will be held in trust pending resolution of the litigation. A copy of the complaint, summons, temporary restraining order and related materials are available at www.dishnetworkservingnotice.com/ftaforall.
California Federal Court Enters Preliminary Injunction Banning Further Sales of SV-Lan and New Link Products
On April 25, 2011 the Honorable Thomas J. Whelan of the Southern District of California issued a Preliminary Injunction Order banning further distribution of devices marketed as the “SV-Lan” and “New Link” pending final resolution of DISH Network and NagraStar’s litigation against ProSonicview and its owner Christopher Whitcomb. Whitcomb was a former employee of Sonicview USA, Inc. which has also been sued by DISH Network. In that case, Judge M. James Lorenz, also in the Southern District of California, entered a similar injunction order on March 29, 2010 enjoining sales of the Sonicview iHub, 8PSK TFEC boards and related software. The iHub was the predecessor product for both the SV-Lan and New Link, and all three devices as determined by the Courts were designed and distributed to work with Sonicview-branded receivers to engage in piracy of DISH Network programming.
A federal judge denied Sonicview’s motion to dismiss DISH Network and NagraStar allegations that Sonicview violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, stating “the Court also notes with respect to Defendants’ contention . . . the Court has found, based on evidence, that Plaintiffs were likely to prevail on the merits of this claim” in an order issued on June 24, 2010.
The Court underscored that the evidence presented by plaintiffs showed Defendants’ actual involvement in piracy and highlighted Sonicview’s sale of 8PSK Turbo Boards. Concluding its order, the Court stated that “Plaintiffs’ allegations, which are supported by evidence presented for purposes of the preliminary injunction motion, are sufficient . . . . For the reasons stated above, Defendants’ motion to dismiss Counts I and III of the complaint is DENIED.”