DirecTV Goes Double Dipping To Get Huge Fines Against Satellite Intercepts

from the seems-a-bit-extreme dept

You may recall that DirecTV ran a nice little revenue generation scam for a while against people who might have been intercepting their satellite signals illegally. Rather than actually track them down, the company sued firms that sold smart card readers — and got a copy of their customer list. They then sent threatening letters to everyone on that list — even though there are plenty of other reasons to own a smart card reader that are perfectly legitimate and have nothing to do with illegally watching DirecTV programming. Rather than bother to take those people to court, DirecTV offered an easy out: pay $3,500 and they would leave you alone (if this sounds like a similar tactic being used by the RIAA, you’re absolutely right). After lawsuits were filed, DirecTV agreed to end the practice (just as a judge was about to tell them they had to, as it was extortion), but it appears they haven’t stopped some of their other hardball tactics. The latest is that they’ve decided to interpret the law in a way that makes anyone who uses a modified smartcard at risk of being accused of actually “assembling” interception equipment. The law in question is designed to go after those involved in making and selling equipment to illegally intercept satellite signals. However, DirecTV is claiming that sticking the modified smartcard in a receiver is “assembling” an illegal device — thereby opening those users up to $100,000 fines.

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Comments on “DirecTV Goes Double Dipping To Get Huge Fines Against Satellite Intercepts”

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Stoolio (user link) says:


The tragedy with both dish providers is how far from grace they fell.
It is hard to believe that I now trust my cable provider over my old dish ones. In the early days we all seemed to be willing to put up with losing signals during wind and rain, just as long as we were putting it to the cable companies. But after the experience I had with both dish companies, I will never deal with them again.

Rob Miles (user link) says:

Yea, it's sad.

So a DirecTV customer is using an altered card? How DARE DirecTV attempt to protect their product and service?! Why, the very idea of making the punishment severe enough to actually deter the crime is just so… unAmerican!

(Please note, I don’t like what the sattelite providers did to those who own smart card readers anymore than you guys, but c’mon. They have a right to go after the people actually using the altered cards.)

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Yea, it's sad.

So a DirecTV customer is using an altered card? How DARE DirecTV attempt to protect their product and service?! Why, the very idea of making the punishment severe enough to actually deter the crime is just so… unAmerican!

No, you missed the point. Going after the users is fine. But, it’s all about what law they’re using to go after them. Illegal interception of satellite signal is the law they should be using — but they’re also using the law that’s for those who make equipment that’s used to steal satellite signals. That’s misreading the law.

I have no problem with them going after those who illegally get satellite TV, but they shouldn’t be misusing the law to make the punishments worse than they actually deserve.

Also, you really believe that someone watching some TV they didn’t pay for deserves to pay $100,000?

DIsh User (user link) says:

Re: Re: Yea, it's sad.

Exactly. Its always some right wing whacko who misses the point. They can’t wait to take the side of a corporation VS some tree-hugging hacker.

The other point that got missed was that if you really love this country, and I personally hope you do, then you should embrace the laws that protect the accused. The laws against the tyranny of the powerful and rich. DirecTV launched a completely un-American crusade based on the misuse of existing laws, and they are doing it again.

RC says:

Re: Re: Yea, it's sad.

Shotgun litigation like this is a dangerous thing for freedom, and freedom of speech even. Big corp’s know that money rules all, and might makes right (until stopped by either an overburdened AG or under funded EFF type group). The fines and even jail time for this stuff is also obscene considering the “crime”. Not quite chopping a hand off, but who has $100K sitting around? But wait, it is supposed to be a deterrent – no, it is meant to be a bully prod making the potential cost of loosing too high to fight, even an unjust charge. This saves money by bypassing the expensive triviality of a trial. What is most disgusting is that we end up paying with taxes to protect the interests of co’s such as Sony, Directv, etc. at the expense of what should be our freedom. A business model of legislated non-obsolesce is beyond justification.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Yea, you'r sad.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

In other words, you don?t get to extort $100,000.00 from someone who ?stole? MAYBE $3000.00 ?worth? of satellite TV, you only get the $3000.00 that was lost.

But in truth, nothing was lost, because the people receiving the signal never cost dish network anything ? the signal was there whether they paid for it or not.

An eye for an eye ? but only a mother-fucking eye already! You don?t get to take an eye, a leg, a tooth, and an ear.

Andrew Strasser (user link) says:

Re: Re: brain damn-age

Hilarious. That’s true though there are literally hundreds of satellites up there bombarding our planet with High Frequency(radioactive) signals at all times. We won’t stop that, however this does seem like a bit of abuse of power that people have let get to their heads or something. Money rules our world and satellite companies can’t keep up.

Cable today has the better advantage over basically all services short of wirless and has much much more security than wireless. Understandably we’re talking about television however I’d rather invest into something that is going to be an intregal part of our society for quite some time to come. Dish has half the practicality for residential use. I do strongly support other means than cable for company, government, and military uses though.

CapnKirk says:

Re: Re: Re: brain damn-age

Ok, I understand your point but calling high frequency (or UHF, SHF, etc) radio waves “radioactive” is misleading at best. First, the amount of energy reaching your head from 22,000 miles up is VERY small–you should be more concerned about the glowing hands on your watch or your smoke alarm (yep, both radioactive). Second, radio waves are characterized as non-ionizing radiation, which basically means they can’t knock electrons out of your atoms. Quit trying to scare people.

Chris Sz says:

How to Assemble a Car

If DirecTV is going to say that putting a smart card, which is essentially a key that turns on or ‘enables’ the device, into the DirecTV unit means you are assembling a device, then I must be assembling a car each time I put the key in the ignition. I never knew I had this knowledge! How amazing! All it took was a lawyer to point out that I know how to assemble a car, and that millions of people each day assemble their car. I, personally, am going to stop this practice as I do not want the United Auto Workers Union knocking on my door for assembling vehicles while not a part of their union. And Toyota will probably be pretty P.O.’d also, so all of you car drivers take head. Stop ‘enabling’ your car each day or risk being sued or being fitted for your own pair of cement shoes. (Oh wait, that comment may make some union officials upset)

Scott A Wendt says:

Re: How to Assemble a Car

You are not assembling a car, you are assembling the car ignition device (if you assume that the key is a part of the ignition system). Not that I’m defending DirecTV but you should at least get the analogy correct. The modified smartcard (in DirecTV’s terms not necessarily mine) is one part of an illegal signal theft device, by putting it into the reciever which is the other part of the device you are “assembling” it.

My question is whether this is really a problem anymore? Last I heard with the disabling of the Hu stream there weren’t widespread public hacks for DTV streams.

Rikko says:

How can this industry even exist?

I don’t understand how we’ve even gotten to the point where they can try and sell their signal. They’re broadcasting the damn thing all over the planet – what if I don’t want that signal being splattered all over my property? Conversely, what if I want to use it?

The entire satellite entertainment industry reminds me of someone throwing money from a helicopter and then yelling in a megaphone for people to stop picking it up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Well, then

[Waves hand-Jedi mind trick] The smartcard is not what you seek..
[waves hand] jump the 2 of the pins (I belieive 1-2) on the Intel chip just north of the Main processor. Apply a 12v pulse. Attach a JTAG connector to the port just east of the main processor. Use SoftICE or GDB to access the port over serial connection. Rewrite the tier data.
Laugh heartily.

Itsacatfight says:

Re: Their Way - Money for nothing

I wonder if they charged the tech who brought our replacement box?
My husband and I had been good DIRECT TV customers for over 5 yrs. During that time two of our boxes went bad. We sent them in and replacements were sent back. No problem, but several months ago one of our boxes went bad and we spent three times on the phone trying to get a replacement sent. We were told we no not do that. They wanted to send a man out on a service call. We didn’t have a problem with that, after all we had been paying them $5.99 a mo for their Protection Plan since Oct of 2004. When the man came sure enough the box was bad and he installed the replacement. He had a form which was a DirecTV form CIA (06/06) Installation/Service Satisfaction Checklist. On the front side of this form there is a place to be completed by the Tech whether this is Installation or Service call and a place for the job number. The tech checked “Service call”. On the reverse side the heading reads DIRECTV Equipment Lease Addendum. Under this heading are three boxes:
(1) new DirecTV customer
(2) current customer obtaining one or more additional receiver(s) or
(3) Service Call. Note: Lease Addendum is NOT applicable for Service Calls.
So we signed it, because this was a service call! About a month later we switched to DISH. When we called in to cancel DIRECTTV we were told that we would have to pay a penalty because our contract had not been satisfied. We said “No, way” we’ve been customers for over five years with no contract extensions. They said yes when we upgraded our box. We wrote to their Billing Disputes Dept. sent copies of the form showing that it was a service call highlighted the part that says contract extension is not applicable for a service call. After about a month we received a form letter back thanking us for our letter and saying sorry you did not fulfill your contract agreement. Then they debited our bank account for the penalty. About two weeks ago we received a letter in the mail inviting us to “come back”
I say ” snowball’s chance”!!!!! Not even if you are the only satellite provider on the planet.

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