Court Holds U.S. Retailer Accountable for Promoting Piracy by Selling IPTV Streaming Devices with Unauthorized Channels

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A bankruptcy court in Florida has ruled that Amit Bhalla, a retailer of IPTV streaming devices with unauthorized channels, cannot use a bankruptcy case to shield himself from monetary liability for copyright infringement.

In 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued a permanent injunction halting the unlawful distribution of television content from programmers CCTV and TVB on TVpad devices. DISH Network, which has exclusive rights to distribute much of CCTV’s and TVB’s content in the United States (including through its Sling TV OTT service), and CICC, an affiliate of CCTV, were also plaintiffs in that underlying lawsuit, which began in 2015. The plaintiffs alleged that the manufacturers and distributors of the TVpad device set up a pirate broadcasting network designed to stream CCTV and TVB channels without authorization.

The court ordered manufacturers and distributors of TVpad to pay $55 million in damages to DISH, TVB, CCTV and CICC, and the injunction prohibited retailers from distributing, advertising, marketing or promoting TVpad and comparable devices that deliver CCTV’s or TVB’s copyrighted content.

Rather than accept responsibility for his actions, Amit Bhalla chose to file for bankruptcy in an attempt to avoid being held financially accountable. Citing Bhalla’s willful and malicious conduct, the plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida. The court granted the motion, and Bhalla must now pay plaintiffs $4.4 million for copyright and trademark infringement.

“This ruling sends an important message to retailers who think they can get away with profiting off pirated content: you will eventually be held accountable, and a bankruptcy filing will not protect you,” said Samuel Tsang, vice president, Operations for TVB USA. “Our hope is that, as a result of this ruling, retailers will stop selling content obtained through illegal means and instead serve their customers with legal, reliable content and devices.”

About TVB USA

TVB USA’s parent company is Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), the largest and most popular producer of Cantonese-language television programming in the world. TVB USA also offers various TVB channels in Mandarin, Vietnamese and English to meet the different needs of Chinese-speaking viewers in the U.S. All the best programming from TVB that originally aired in Hong Kong and Taiwan is broadcast by TVB USA in the United States on more than 10 different channels. Visit www.tvbusa.com.

About China Central Television

China Central Television (CCTV) is the National Network of the People’s Republic of China and it is one of China’s most important news broadcast companies. Today, CCTV has become one of China’s most influential media outlets. Currently CCTV is distributing seven international channels in the U.S., which include Chinese, English and Spanish, covering almost every aspect of the Chinese social life. It is an important window for the world to find out more about China. CCTV is making efforts to become a global media network with increased international influence. Visit www.cctv.com.

About DISH

DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH), through its subsidiaries, provides approximately 13.332 million pay-TV subscribers, as of June 30, 2017, with the highest-quality programming and technology with the most choices at the best value. DISH offers a high definition line-up with more than 200 national HD channels, the most international channels and award-winning HD and DVR technology. DISH Network Corporation is a Fortune 200 company. Visit www.dish.com.

Sling TV L.L.C., a subsidiary of DISH Network L.L.C., provides over-the-top television services, including general market, Latino and International live and on-demand programming. Sling TV is the number one live over-the-top service based on the number of OTT households as reported by comScore as of April 2017. It is available on smart televisions, tablets, game consoles, computers, smartphones and other streaming devices. Sling TV provides more than 300 channels in 22 languages, including Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic and Punjabi. Visit www.Sling.com.

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