Pay television provider DISH Network filed a copyright infringement complaint on Monday in the Southern District of Texas against individuals doing business as Universe IPTV, Universe TV, World-Universeiptv.com, Uni-Update.com, and Uni-Web.online. The defendants allegedly retransmitted television channels that DISH exclusively licensed through the defendants’ Universe IPTV Service to consumers who purchased this service subscription.
DISH contracts for and licenses the rights for a variety of channels; the suit pertains to international channels in that category. DISH claimed that the networks it works with “acquire copyrights in the works that air on their respective channels, including by producing the works and by assignment.” DISH entered into licensing agreements with these networks which gave “DISH the exclusive right to distribute and publicly perform the Protected Channels and works that air on the Protected Channels in the United States by means including satellite, over-the-top (‘OTT’), Internet protocol television (‘IPTV’), and Internet.” DISH stated that these agreements were in effect during the relevant times. Thus, DISH had the exclusive distribution and public performance rights for the channels’ programs whether they are copyrighted or not.
DISH averred that the defendants “are not authorized by DISH to transmit, distribute, or publicly perform the Protected Channels or works that air on those channels in the United States, and DISH has received no compensation from Defendants to do so.” Specifically, DISH alleged that the defendants sell Universe Subscriptions to consumers, including Service Users, and to resellers. DISH claimed that the defendants promoted that there “are more than 40,000 channels, films and series in every country in the world” on Universe Service, some of which include the protected channels.
For example, on its Facebook page, Universe Service advertises Arabic channels available on its subscription service. DISH stated that Facebook removed some of the defendants’ Facebook and Instagram pages because they allegedly violated Facebook’s terms of service relating to copyright infringement. Furthermore, DISH alleged that the defendants “take broadcasts or streams of the Protected Channels, transfer them to one or more computer servers provided, controlled, and maintained by Defendants, and then transmit the Protect Channels to Service Users through OTT delivery.”
Thus, DISH proffered that the defendants are directly responsible for transmitting these channels on its Universe Service, which purportedly include the protected channels, in violation of DISH’s agreements with the networks that carry these channels. Furthermore, DISH claimed that anyone with internet access and a subscription can receive these channels from the defendants.
DISH stated it notified the defendants and their content delivery networks (CDNs) regarding their alleged infringement. DISH claimed that the defendants did not respond to the notices or remove the allegedly infringing content. Furthermore, when the CDNs removed the infringing content, the defendants “intentionally interfered with the takedown efforts by, for example, transmitting the Protected Channels from different CDNs or locations.”
The defendants are accused of direct copyright infringement for the aforementioned conduct. DISH has sought permanent injunctive relief, an award for damages and profits attributed to the alleged infringement, an impoundment and disposition of all infringing articles, to transfer each domain name that the defendants used to infringe to DISH, and other relief.
DISH is represented by Hagan Noll & Boyle LLC.