The once-popular SportsBay streaming site has been ordered to pay almost half a billion dollars in piracy damages to DISH Network.
In the digital age, the boundaries of content streaming and intellectual property have been continuously tested, culminating in various lawsuits worldwide.
One such prominent case in 2021 was between DISH Network, Sling TV, and operators of four unlicensed sports streaming sites. This legal dispute recently concluded, awarding almost half a billion in damages.
Background of the SportsBay Case
In July 2021, DISH Network and Sling TV launched a copyright lawsuit against the anonymous operators of four streaming websites: SportsBay.org, SportsBay.tv, Live-NBA.stream, and Freefeds.com.
The principal contention was that these websites had unlawfully circumvented DISH’s security measures to stream its content, thus violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
According to the complaint, these operators not only bypassed security measures but also provided technologies enabling this circumvention, infringing on provisions 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1)(A) and 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(2).
DISH and Sling sought several remedies, including a permanent injunction, control over the defendants’ domain names, and hefty damages – up to $2,500 for each DMCA violation.
By September 2021, to identify these anonymous operators, District Judge Charles Eskridge permitted DISH to serve subpoenas on various third-party service providers.
Following this move, all the websites listed in the complaint vanished.
Identifying the Defendants
DISH’s subsequent investigations and data from the third-party service providers named two men from Buenos Aires, Argentina, as the operators of the SportsBay sites.
Juan Barcan and Juan Nahuel Pereyra were identified via their PayPal accounts used for transactions with domain and hosting services.
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DISH then sought international assistance to formally serve them under the Hague Convention.
However, the delivery was only successful for Pereyra. Barcan, on the other hand, was served through a Gmail address connected to the contentious domain names.
Both men failed to respond, leading DISH to seek a default judgment.
Mechanism of Violation
The core of DISH’s argument was the method employed by the defendants. The process began when a user clicked on a channel on the SportsBay websites.
This action would embed content from Freefeds.com within the site, which would then connect to Sling’s server, fetching encrypted programming.
Furthermore, the Freefeds.com iframe would connect to the Live-nba.stream server to obtain decryption keys, making the Sling content viewable.
DISH stressed that every time a user accessed Sling programming via these links, the Live-nba.stream website was utilized to decrypt the content.
Counting each such incident as a DMCA violation, over six months, the site recorded nearly 2.5 million visits from the U.S., translating into significant potential damages.
DISH proposed damages amounting to $493,850,000 based on minimum statutory damages for each violation.
District Judge Charles Eskridge agreed, delivering a landmark decision. He imposed a permanent injunction preventing the defendants, and anyone associated with them, from bypassing any security measures set by DISH or Sling.
More strikingly, he awarded DISH the requested $493,850,000 in damages against the two identified defendants for the extensive DMCA violations.
This case underscores the ramifications of copyright infringement in the digital era. With technology evolving rapidly, content providers are vigilant and prepared to defend their intellectual property rights.
The verdict also serves as a deterrent for potential infringers, highlighting the severe legal and financial consequences of such actions.
For more information, refer to the official legal documentation (PDF) and the report on TorrenFreak.
This is not the first time we have seen DISH Network target IPTV services.
Legal IPTV Streaming Options
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See our detailed guide below for more information on the legality of IPTV and everything you need to know before streaming.
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