Recently, we wrote about how satellite TV provider Echostar had been sending out subpoenas demanding customer lists
from resellers who had sold satellite receivers made by a company named Freetech. Freetech's satellite receivers can be used to receive perfectly legal over-the-air satellite TV signals. Echostar's complaint was that many also used Freetech's receivers to pirate its own DishTV offering. However, that doesn't give Echostar the right to then demand the contact info on everyone who ever bought a Freetech receiver, as many could be using them for perfectly legal purposes. And, historically, with DirecTV, we've seen a similar situation where the DirecTV forced plenty of totally innocent
smart card device buyers to pay up by threatening them with lawsuits over pirated satellite TV.
Luckily, it looks like the EFF helped convince the judge that Echostar was out of line, and the judge has said that the buyers' privacy trumps Echostar's right to the info
. As the EFF notes, this is a big ruling, in that it's "the first time a federal court has explicitly rejected a third-party subpoena on the basis of the privacy interests of nonparty consumers." Chalk one up for the right to privacy.