After discussions with Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) and Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society (CIS) Cyberlaw Clinic, satellite television giant DirecTV has agreed to modify its nationwide campaign against signal piracy in order to reduce threats and lawsuits against innocent users of smart card technology. Chief among these changes is a promise to no longer sue or threaten to sue people merely for possessing smart card devices. ver the past few years, DirecTV has orchestrated a nationwide legal campaign against hundreds of thousands of individuals, claiming that they were illegally intercepting its satellite TV signal. The company began its crusade by raiding smart crd device distributors to obtain their customer lists, then sent over 170,000 demand letters to customers and eventually filed more than 24,000 federal lawsuits against them. Because irecTV made little effort to distinguish legal uses of smart card technology from illegal ones, EFF and the CIS Cyberlaw Clinic received hundreds of calls and emails from panicked device purchasers.
In August 2003, EFF and CIS created the DirecTV Defense website to provide innocent users and their lawyers with the information necessary to defend themselves. The organizations also began a series of discussions with DirecTV about ways to reform its anti-piracy tactics and protect innocent consumers. As a result, DirecTV has agreed to make several changes to its campaign. The company will no longer pursue people solely for purchasing smart card readers, writers, general-purpose programmers, and general-purpose emulators. It will maintain this policy into the forseeable future and file lawsuits only against people it suspects of actually pirating its satellite signal. DirecTV will, however, continue to investigate purchasers of devices that are often primarily designed for satellite signal interception, nicknamed “bootloaders” and “unloopers.”
In related news, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in DirecTV v. Mike Treworgy, finding that DirecTV cannot sue Treworgy for mere possession of technology that is capable of intercepting DirecTV’s satellite signal. “We’re glad to see the court apply common sense to this issue,” said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. “Merely possessing a device doesn’t harm anyone and shouldn’t give a company like DirecTV the right to drag you into court without proof that you’re actually stealing something from them.”
From EFFector Vol. 17, No. 22 June 16, 2004 See :http://www.eff.org/news/archives/2004_06.php#001615
DirecTV Defense website: http://www.directvdefense.org