It only took a few years of pressure, but DirecTV is backing down from their policy of extortion when it comes to anyone who has bought a smart card reader. The situation, in case you hadn't followed the case, was that DirecTV got access to the sales lists of some companies that sold smart card readers - which can be used to create cards for illegally accessing satellite TV. Of course, there are other, perfectly legitimate, reasons why someone might want a smartcard reader as well - but DirecTV didn't really care. Instead, they sent out threatening letters, demanding $3,500 or filing a lawsuit, where you would need to prove your innocence, rather than have DirecTV show you had actually done something illegal. Last year, the EFF got involved in the case, and it appears they've convinced DirecTV to back off. They say they will "no longer sue or threaten to sue people merely for possessing smart card devices." They'll also make it easier for anyone they contact to prove their innocence prior to the case going to court. Of course, this doesn't solve the legal problems of many who have been hounded over the past few years by DirecTV.
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