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EchoStar-DirecTV reach settlement with TV pirates

http://biz.yahoo.com/bizj/061012/1359921.html?.v=1

EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. have reached a $500,000 settlement in a lawsuit against Canadian Steve Souphanthong and various associates accused of illegally pirating EchoStar's DISH Network and other satellite TV services.
Souphanthong, who operated under the name B-Tech Distribution, was allegedly one of the largest manufacturers of piracy software and devices in North America.

The satellite TV providers filed a civil lawsuit against Souphanthong in Ontario Superior Court, claiming the piracy operation caused "serious damage" to the plaintiffs.

According to a statement released Thursday, Englewood-based EchoStar and El Segundo, Calif.-based DirecTV will "continue to fight those who try to circumvent the security system by illegally intercepting the satellite signal being provided to legitimate customers."

Published October 12, 2006 by The Denver Business Journal
 

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That would be a perceived amount and the actual "damage" would be anyone's guess. I always love how big corporations always come up with some magical number in dollars that they claim to have been cheated out of.

There are basically two types of video pirates - those that would never pay for any programming and those that have legit subs but are looking for a little "extra". The free TVers would probably never subscribe to either sat provider so the actual loss to Dish or DTV is a complete unknown.

The only ones that would ever make money off these freeloaders is the pirating hardware providers such as the one named in the settlement. I mean, how can you count it as lost revenue if you'd never have gotten it in the first place? That's like claiming I would have won the lottery if I had bought a ticket and then ***** about the lost revenue. The legit subscribers that were hacking to get extra services are the ones that were actually withholding revenue from DTV or Dish because they probably could have afforded to pay for what they stole.

The free TVers that once hacked DTV have long since jumped ship and are now getting Dish instead. Did DTV actually lose any revenue from this? They did if you count the millions of dollars spent trying to thwart the hackers over the years. How much more revenue do you think they're taking in now that they've plugged up the holes and can no longer be hacked? Did they suddenly have a vast increase in their subscriber base after they shut down the Hu card data stream?

I often wondered if DTV or Dish would actually have made more money if they spent less time worrying about the hackers and invested more effort into providing a quality product and better service. DTV finally got it right by issuing a new smart card that could not be hacked. Dish has not been so fortunate and is still playing the cat and mouse game with the hackers. Most true hackers actually see it that way and don't care so much about the programming itself but rather the thrill of beating "The Man" at his own game.

I'm not supporting the hacking or theft of service in any way, shape, or form, but just offering my 2 cents. Sellers of illegal hacking hardware are criminals and should pay the price. People that steal satellite or cable are thieves even though most of them find justification in what they're doing and don't think twice about it.
 

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I don't understand why this was handled as a civil matter rather than a criminal case,
and by settling did E*/D* agree not to pursue criminal charges?
 

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For a criminal case, you have to get the local DA's office interested in pursuing a case. Maybe those folks in Ontario weren't enthusiastic about spending time on this guy, or maybe the criminal penalty in Canada is relatively light.
 

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It's just like when the big designers claim they're losing millions of dollars a year to conterfeit products...C'mon, the soccer moms and teenage girls buying Coach and Luis Vuitton knock-offs would never lay out the 100's of dollars for the real thing!

captain_video said:
That would be a perceived amount and the actual "damage" would be anyone's guess. I always love how big corporations always come up with some magical number in dollars that they claim to have been cheated out of.

There are basically two types of video pirates - those that would never pay for any programming and those that have legit subs but are looking for a little "extra". The free TVers would probably never subscribe to either sat provider so the actual loss to Dish or DTV is a complete unknown.

The only ones that would ever make money off these freeloaders is the pirating hardware providers such as the one named in the settlement. I mean, how can you count it as lost revenue if you'd never have gotten it in the first place? That's like claiming I would have won the lottery if I had bought a ticket and then ***** about the lost revenue. The legit subscribers that were hacking to get extra services are the ones that were actually withholding revenue from DTV or Dish because they probably could have afforded to pay for what they stole.

The free TVers that once hacked DTV have long since jumped ship and are now getting Dish instead. Did DTV actually lose any revenue from this? They did if you count the millions of dollars spent trying to thwart the hackers over the years. How much more revenue do you think they're taking in now that they've plugged up the holes and can no longer be hacked? Did they suddenly have a vast increase in their subscriber base after they shut down the Hu card data stream?

I often wondered if DTV or Dish would actually have made more money if they spent less time worrying about the hackers and invested more effort into providing a quality product and better service. DTV finally got it right by issuing a new smart card that could not be hacked. Dish has not been so fortunate and is still playing the cat and mouse game with the hackers. Most true hackers actually see it that way and don't care so much about the programming itself but rather the thrill of beating "The Man" at his own game.

I'm not supporting the hacking or theft of service in any way, shape, or form, but just offering my 2 cents. Sellers of illegal hacking hardware are criminals and should pay the price. People that steal satellite or cable are thieves even though most of them find justification in what they're doing and don't think twice about it.
 

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viking1965 said:
It's just like when the big designers claim they're losing millions of dollars a year to conterfeit products...C'mon, the soccer moms and teenage girls buying Coach and Luis Vuitton knock-offs would never lay out the 100's of dollars for the real thing!
For you and Captain Midnight... The unsubbed have a cost to D* and E* that has no relation to lost revenue.

Saying no cost is a convenient skippping over of the unrecovered loss caused by the hardware subsidy. So no it isn't a no loss to the provider as is suggested.

And the free TVers would subscribe to Cable or Satellite if they could not steal the signal and yes it is theft. What was it they called it before, Testing? Not testing, testing would be checking to se if you could view the free info channel then subscribing. If they couldn't get free TV do you really think they'd be happy what they could get with an OTA antenna after having lots of channels?

Sorry if I hurt anybodys feelings, I hate *&^%(*&% crooks.
 

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Pirating is not the same as theft, just as reckless driving is not the same as drunk driving. It's all wrong, but whenever anyone mislabels them, it only muddies the picture. I'm particularly grumpy about the pirates who call their illegal activities "FTA". :(

A lot of pirates apparently do bad things to legitimate FTA equipment to temporarily pick up extra channels. In that situation, there's no hardware subsidy involved, and the incremental cost of adding this non-subscriber is nothing.

Again, piracy is wrong. A certain number of pirates would surely pay for at least some of these channels if they had no illegal alternatives. And if everyone tried to freeload, there'd be no one left to pay the hefty costs of keeping all those satellites up there.
 

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One point that seems to have been missed is that while the incremental cost to the sat companies is zero (ignoring equipment subsidies) for signal theft, it costs US, the subcribers something, albeit indirectly.

D* and E* have to pay the content providers for what gets transmitted, the cost of which is reflected as part of what we pay every month. They also have to pay for the cost of their own infrastructure, such as satellites. Freeloaders aren't covering that cost, which means we are, reflected in rates that (at least theoretically) would be lower if everyone was paying.
 

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wje said:
Freeloaders aren't covering that cost, which means we are, reflected in rates that (at least theoretically) would be lower if everyone was paying.
I think that argument takes one step away from solid footing. Freeloaders definitely mean less revenue for the satellite companies. Would more revenue from former freeloaders translate into lower rates? That's far from certain.

Consider a sports team. Like a satellite company, it has large fixed costs and low incremental costs per customer. Suppose that the team's budget is based on selling 80% of available seats, but that it sells out every seat for the season. Will it react by lowering prices? Not if it wants to maximize profit.

(And on the flip side, if it sells only 60% of seats, will it raise prices? Only a little, if any. The competitive marketplace effectively sets prices; if customers won't pay $10, then they won't pay $11 either.)

Pirating is wrong because it means viewing private programming without paying for it. It certainly hurts the bottom line of satellite companies and all of their shareholders. But I'm not convinced that ending piracy would make most viewers' bill go down.
 

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At the minimum pirating hurts the satellite companies because they have to spend so much money to defeat the pirates. If they could just simply scramble their feeds and leave it at that and have non-subscribers simply say "oh, they don't want me to watch without subscribing" and either subscribe or walk away it wouldn't be a major cost. But pirates and opportunists such as Steve Souphanthong have no such honor --- they treat it like a game, satellite providers scramble and pirates figure out how to break the scrambing. Back and forth they go with satellite providers spending tons of money trying to stay one step ahead of the pirates (if not two).

Pirates would prefer that the satellite companies just give up, not spend any more money on protecting their signal and let anyone with enough cash fund opportunists like Steve Souphanthong instead of paying subscriptions. It would save the satellite company's money fighting them - but there would also be a loss when people look for the cheap way out ... paying an opportunist like Steve Souphanthong for "forever free TV" instead of paying the satellite carrier for subscription.

The easier it is to pirate the more likely someone is going to sell a "consumer" pirate box ... and that DOES lead to loss. What would you rather do - spend a couple hundred dollars every month and still not get all the channels you want (due to terriorial restrictions) or make a one time payment to a pirate/opportunist? (Don't answer that on the forum - it is a rhetorical question.)

So the satellite companies continue to spend real money on fighting pirates. This time they are getting some money back. I can't say that the people Steve Souphanthong served would have simply become honest subscribers if he had not provided his wares - many are likely in areas where one cannot honestly subscribe. But at least E* gets some of the money that they spent fight him and his ilk back from his opportunistic little pockets.

BTW: IMHO there is no defense for pirating signals except ignorance. If someone buys a box from an opportunist thinking they were getting something legit I can understand. But if they continue to view after being informed of their illegitimate status or set out knowing that isn't the legitimate way to subscribe I have no mercy for them and do not want to see their illegitimate viewing defended.
 
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