Satellite pirate ordered to pay $51 million


Whether Dish Network, EchoStar and NagraStar will ever be able to collect anywhere near the full amount remains to be seen, but a federal judge in Tampa has awarded them $51 million from Robert Ward, who was found to have posted software on the Internet for people to receive subscription satellite TV without paying.

“This is a significant victory in our effort to eradicate piracy of the Dish Network system. We thank the court for its well-reasoned analysis,” said NagraStar CEO Pascal Lenoir. Nagrastar LLC is a joint venture between EchoStar and Kudelski SA. It supplies conditional access and smart cards for satellite TV systems.

The plaintiffs said the summary judgment ruling made two significant holdings that will strengthen the companies’ ability to pursue pirates in the future. The court held that the posting of pirate software constitutes a violation of the Federal Communications Act, and that statutory damages should be calculated based on how many individuals downloaded the pirate software.