Dish Network, LLC has filed a copyright lawsuit in Texas against 5 Doe parties accused of unlawfully “re-transmitting” certain Arabic-language television programming.

Dish Network is a Colorado-based company that provides TV service to over 14 million satellite and broadband subscribers.  According to the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Dish Network claims to have the exclusive right to distribute and “publicly perform” certain international channel programming, including Al Jazeera Arabic News and various channels operated by Middle East Broadcasting center, based in Dubai, UAE.

As regards the Doe defendants, the Dish Network complaint alleges:

Upon information and belief, Defendants capture live broadcast signals of the DISH Channels, transcode these signals into a format useful for streaming over the Internet, and then upload the content to their computer servers. … Defendants use computer servers to unlawfully retransmit the DISH Channels in the United States. The DISH Channels were observed during testing of an unauthorized set-top box capable of receiving Defendants’ unauthorized retransmissions. The DISH Channels are also identified in the user interface that viewers navigate when accessing content through the unauthorized set-top box and software applications.

The lawsuits seek damages including Defendants’ profits and statutory penalties; injunctive relief to cause the Defendants to cease infringement; and “impoundment and disposition of all infringing articles under 17 U.S.C. § 503.”

UPDATE (10/21/17):  Dish Network has filed a separate similar action in the same Court, this time targeting a software “Developer” and group of “Operators” involved with an unlicensed service known as “Zem TV” which is made available as an “add-on” for the Kodi media player.   In part the lawsuit alleges:

 Upon information and belief, Developer: selects and locates the channels that are
retransmitted on the ZemTV service; updates and posts new versions of the ZemTV add-on on and; captures live broadcast signals of the Protected
Channels outside the United States; transcodes these signals into a format useful for streaming
over the Internet; and then uploads and transfers the transcoded content to computer servers that are controlled and maintained by Developer.

Bot lawsuits, Dish Network LLC v. Does 1-5, No. 4:15-cv-03394, and Dish Network LLC v. Does 1-4, No. 4:17-cv-01618 were filed by Stephen M. Ferguson of Hagan Noll & Boyle, LLC in Houston, Texas.

Music Group Services, US and its offshore affiliate have filed a Seattle U.S. District Court lawsuit for a host of John Doe claims related to “unauthorized” statements made via Twitter feeds.

Music Group is a holding company for a number of different brands of professional-grade music production and performance equipment, including loudspeakers, amplifiers, mixers, computer-based recording and DJ products, microphones, headphones, wireless systems, musical instruments and lighting systems.   Among the several brands held by Music Group is Behringer, a company founded by Swiss musician Uli Behringer, who pioneered the development and China-based manufacture of professional-grade mixing equipment, making mixers available at more affordable price levels.

The Music Group lawsuit alleges that one or more Doe parties registered the Twitter accounts “Fake Uli Behringer” and “NotUliBehringer” and made various disparaging tweets against Music Group during early 2010.  This allegedly “included assertions that MUSIC Group supported tax evasion, domestic violence, child abuse, and misogyny,” as well as posting other damaging remarks about Music Group products, employees and contractors.  Music Group suspects that one of the Does is a current of former employee of Music Group.

Last month, according to the lawsuit, Twitter responded to Music Group’s notice and supposedly refused to remove the offending tweets or de-activate the accounts.

The complaint contains numerous counts including  violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C.A. § 1030; violations of the Lanham Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C.A. § 1125 (cyberpiracy, trademark infringement, trade name infringement and false designation of origin); unfair competition under state and federal law; copyright infringement; and breach of contract.

My initial thought upon understanding that the offending tweets were all made during early 2010 was whether the Does might argue for a statute of limitations defense.  Although the Lanham Act does not have its own statute of limitations, courts have used limitations periods contained in “related” contracts between the parties, or limitations periods in “analogous” state statutes.  In Washington State, a six-year statute of limitations applies to claims for breach of written contracts (RCW 4.16.040), while a three-year limitations period applies to general claims for injury to persons or property, fraud, and claims arising from oral contacts (RCW 4.16.080).  The Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 507) states a three-year limitations period for civil copyright claims.   It is possible that Music Group could claim to have “discovered” the tweets sometime later than the initial postings, and seek a delay or “tolling” of the running of the limitations periods.

The suit was filed by Seattle law firm Seed Intellectual Property Group PLLC under Case No. 14-cv-621 (W.D. Wash.)