DISH Network Sues ChitramTV For Copyright Infringement Over Purported Program Retransmissions

On Tuesday, television provider DISH Network L.L.C. filed a complaint in the Southern District of Texas against Dinesh Vigneswaran doing business as Chitram TV Canada and (Vigneswaran) as well as unknown individuals doing business as ChitramTV and (collectively Chitram) for copyright infringement over the defendants’ purported retransmission of programs of which DISH has the exclusive distribution and performance rights.

According to the complaint, DISH “contracts for and licenses rights for the international channels distributed on its platform from channel owners and their agents.” DISH noted that it entered into licensing agreements with various networks, which granted DISH “the exclusive right to distribute and publicly perform the Protected Channels and works that air on the Protected Channels in the United States.” DISH added that its exclusive distribution and performance rights are currently in effect. However, DISH averred that “Chitram is taking television channels exclusively licensed to DISH and is unlawfully retransmitting these channels throughout the United States on Defendants’ ChitramTV service (the Chitram Service) to customers who purchase Defendants’ Chitram set-top boxes and Chitram Service subscriptions.” 

DISH argued that it did not authorize the alleged conduct and it has not been compensated. DISH asserted that the defendants are willfully infringing copyrights because they have continued to retransmit DISH’s exclusively licensed channels, despite DISH’s request that they cease this conduct.

The plaintiff contended that the defendants use the “Chitram Service to transmit the Protected Channels to Service Users soon after the original authorized transmission.” Specifically, Chitram allegedly “takes broadcasts or streams of the Protected Channels, transfers them to one or more computer servers provided, controlled, and maintained by Chitram, and then transmits the Protected Channels to Service Users through (over-the-top) OTT delivery to subscribers in the United States.” Thus, anyone with internet access can allegedly receive the protected channels via Chitram by purchasing a Chitram set-top box and a Chitram Subscription. 

Consequently, DISH averred that the defendants are responsible for this alleged retransmission and copyright infringement, not only through their conduct but also by their claims that Chitram is “one of the major IPTV service provider(s) worldwide offering content.” DISH proffered that other features, such as its CatchupTV and Timeshift features a copy of the original work in order to form their purported function, but, as a result, also infringe on DISH’s rights.

The counts against the defendants include direct copyright infringement and inducing and materially contributing to copyright infringement.

DISH seeks a permanent injunction; an award for damages, costs, and fees; impoundment and disposition of all infringing articles; an order permanently transferring the defendants’ domain names to DISH; pre- and post-judgment interest; and other relief.

DISH is represented by Hagan Noll & Boyle LLC.