Echostar Trying To Get Info On Innocent Customers Of Satellite TV Receivers

from the this-again? dept

You may recall a few years back, prior to the RIAA embracing the concept of "pre-litigation letters," that DirecTV was a huge proponent of using them. The company had sued some companies that sold smart card readers -- which could be used for a variety of purposes, only one of which was potentially unauthorized access of satellite TV signals. However, DirecTV was still given access to those company's full customer lists, and proceeded to send most of them one of those pre-litigation letters, demanding $3,500 or saying that a lawsuit would be filed. Of course, plenty of buyers had perfectly legitimate reasons for purchasing a smart card reader that had nothing at all to do with pirating satellite TV. But, no matter, pay up or go to court. And, in fact, many people just paid up.

Eventually, a court finally told DirecTV to knock it off.

However, it appears that DirecTV's main competitors, Echostar never got the message. The EFF is pointing out that Echostar is trying to gain access to the customer lists of a bunch of sellers of a satellite receiver even if there's no evidence that the individual buyers used the satellite receivers to pirate Echostar's DISH Network satellite TV service.

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  • identicon
    Ro, 21 Aug 2008 @ 2:45am

    Such arrogance

    Why are all these companies so damn arrogant. What makes them think there service is so good that people would risk going to court over it? If it really is the dogs bollocks then maybe people would pay for it up front.

    The whole issue of prosecution of innocent people for piracy and illegal use of services winds me up so much.

    Oh I don't know how I can live another day without listening to Justin Timberlake. I will risk throwing my family into poverty just to hear the tones of his voice. And while I'm at it I simply must watch repeats of third rate 90's crime shows. I may simply die if I can't watch mind numbing hours of crap television. If it means I must bankrupt myself and live on the streets the rest of my life I will find someway of watching boring rubbish that will make me want to sit on the sofa and drool down my chin.

    Get over yourself fat cats. We have lives and you are not demigods in control of the sustenance of our lives.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Big Mook, 21 Aug 2008 @ 8:39am

      Re: Such arrogance

      You grossly underestimate what some people will do in order to avoid paying or to stroke their own ego. They will risk their job for something this trivial, and in fact, people do it all the time.

      At an IT shop at a large southeastern bank where I used to work, almost everyone there was stealing cable and satellite programming, even my boss (preacher's kid, so understandable maybe?). You were pretty much looked at as a stooge if you were paying for anything over basic programming.

      The main reason: Because they could! It somehow demonstrated their technical prowess that they were able to rip off providers at will with PC-based or modified commercial receivers that allowed all programming access with no scrambling, including every pay-per-view and porn channel. Every one of those guys could afford to buy the services, but chose not to.

      Similar story with a friend's uncle, who had been stealing programming for years. He was an engineer with a high-paying professional job. He just enjoyed showing off how he got everything for free. He didn't enjoy it forever, though, because they caught him and he avoided prison by agreeing to pay over $75K in fines. I don't know how they did it, but they even showed evidence that he was stealing programming back to the time (circa 1980's) when he had a 9-foot dish in his back yard receiving direct network feeds.

      How did they first get wind of him? He was on the mailing list of a company that produced cable and satellite descramblers and build-at-home kits.

      For the record, I love Dish and pay for it happily. I'd rather have it go out once in a while in a rainstorm, than to give another dime to the cable company (Comcast in this area). And I don't mind paying for services that I want and enjoy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brad Eleven, 21 Aug 2008 @ 5:03am

    re: Such arrogance

    I don't know that it's "the company" that's so arrogant, as much as it is "the lawyers." In particular, I speak of the types who look for opportunity in the law as written, e.g., "We can file these suits at low cost, then follow up with threatening letters which our research shows will net 40% cash response."

    I think what's missing is a sense of shame for these actions. It's too bad that our culture doesn't feature a way for this despicable behavior to be exposed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ehrichweiss, 21 Aug 2008 @ 6:18am


    I've written about this before but if you try to sell a Dish Network receiver on ebay, you will have your auction shut down if you don't jump through DN's hoops; the violation? "trademark infringement". No kidding. They expect you to take pictures of your card's id, which I suspect does more harm than good since those are the same numbers that the satellite hackers use to get free TV. Due to ebay's lack of backbone in this matter, I cancelled my account on ebay and sold the receiver on Craigslist, without the pics in question.

    So this is not remotely surprising at this point and I hope they catch the same flak that DirecTV did. I got the internet so I don't need "TV".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Overcast, 21 Aug 2008 @ 6:25am

    Oh wow, glad I just read this. Last night I was looking at an ad thinking of switching from cable to satellite.....

    Purely because of cost, my cable company is top notch.

    I think I'll just stay with the high level of service my cable company offers and skip satellite. That way, I won't have to deal with issues like that or ever worry should I want to resell old equipment, even if it was just to upgrade later.

    Seriously :) They just lost a potential customer.

    And yea, maybe it just is the lawyers - but from a consumer's point of view - that doesn't matter; they represent the company all the same.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2008 @ 7:01am


      that's right .... don't steal from echostar ... steal from your cable companies which already have a monopoly ....

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Aug 2008 @ 7:25am

    Overcast -> high level of service my cable company offers

    Good one - that's funny.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Witty Nickname, 21 Aug 2008 @ 10:39am

    I'm betting the people who paid were ripping off the signal. If I wasn't stealing I would tell them to screw themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DimWItty Nickname, 21 Aug 2008 @ 2:51pm

    You bend over if you want to....

    This is the traditional "If you have nothing to hide, you won't mind us inspecting you" mindset that the average sheep has. I bet you also enjoy traffic checkpoints on the roadways and shopping bag inspections at your local big box store.

    What DirecTV and now DISH did/are doing is an inch away from extortion. Just because a person purchased a legal device doesn't mean they used it in the way that you are thinking of.

    Unless you have some credible proof that they have done something that injures your company with said legal device (smart card programmer, bolt cutters, sawzall, etc.) you have no right to damage them by extorting money from them or forcing financial hardship on them by dragging them into court.

    We seriously need to adopt a "Loser Pays" legal policy in this country.

    You tell them to screw themselves, and then they cost you $5k to go to court for a trial that you still have a chance, however minute if your innocent, of losing. OR -- They get 3 grand for sending out a 42ยข letter...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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