For all the press attention the RIAA has received for suing their customers, the DirecTV story has been mostly ignored. A few publications have picked up on it, but, for the most part it's been pretty quiet. We last mentioned it a month ago, when someone from DirecTV tried to suggest that if DirecTV suspected you of something then the burden of proof was on you to prove your innocence. Now, however, it appears that a few more people are picking up on the story - though, they're not always getting it right. The Chicago Tribune (registration required, unfortunately) has a pretty balanced piece that includes the story of people who bought smart card readers for completely legitimate purposes (including one who was designing computers for medical research), but are still being sued because, as far as DirecTV is concerned, there's no reason to buy a smartcard reader, except to try to access their signal. The article also reports that many people who settled already are receiving the legal threat (pay DirecTV $3,500 or they'll sue) a second time. As the article points out, it appears they're filing lawsuits by computer - just spitting them out without bothering to actually see if there's any real evidence that the law has been broken. It also mentions (and this is the first I've seen of this), that some of the cases have been thrown out of court, as judges have pointed out that DirecTV has no proof. Now, the question is whether or not those who are falsely accused can sue DirecTV back for suing them without any proof. Meanwhile, DirecTV stands by their typical line that they're doing this to stop "theft" and (just like the recording industry) insisting it's the same thing as stealing a car. That, of course, isn't addressing the real issue, which is how can they sue someone simply for buying a product that has completely legitimate uses that have nothing to do with DirecTV? Their only response so far has been to deny it's possible to use a smart card reader for any purpose other than to access DirecTV's signals - which is simply untrue. Meanwhile, not all the articles on this topic are so well done. An article in Cincinnati discusses the same topic, but doesn't even explain smartcard readers, and simply calls them "piracy equipment."
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