SET TV Operator and Manager Must Pay Millions in Piracy Damages
The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), the anti-piracy alliance featuring several Hollywood studios, Amazon, Netflix and other entertainment outfits, has declared war on pirate streaming services.
The alliance is the driving force behind several lawsuits including the one filed against Florida-based IPTV service SET TV early last year.
At the time, SET TV was a popular software-based IPTV service that was also sold pre-loaded with set-top boxes. While it was marketed as a legal service, ACE members framed it as little more than a pirate tool, allowing buyers to stream copyright-infringing content.
“Defendants market and sell subscriptions to ‘Setvnow,’ a software application that Defendants urge their customers to use as a tool for the mass infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted motion pictures and television shows,” the complaint read.
Soon after the lawsuit was filed the IPTV service went offline, leaving its 180,000 subscribers behind. But that didn’t mean the case against SET TV, its owner Jason Labossiere, and employee Nelson Johnson, was over. ACE pressed on, hoping to get a judgment in its favor.
Without any of the defendants putting up a defense, ACE booked its first victory a few months ago. The media companies submitted a motion for a default judgment against the company SET Broadcast, LLC, which the court granted.
ACE celebrated the victory in public, but the matter wasn’t completely closed. The anti-piracy alliance managed to secure a judgment against the company, but not the two employees. To address that, the copyright holders went back to the court requesting another default judgment.
This week the U.S. District Court for Central California granted their request. SET TV owner Jason Labossiere and employee Nelson Johnson, who both failed to put up a defense, were found guilty of willful copyright infringement.
The rightsholders demanded the maximum in statutory damages of $150,000 for each of the 51 infringed works. The Court deemed this appropriate. The mentioned works were just a small sample so the actual damages “would likely be astronomically higher.”
As a result, Labossiere and Johnson must pay $7,650,000 in damages. The two are jointly and severally liable, meaning that both can be required to pay the full amount if the other is unable to.
In addition to the damages, the Court also issued a permanent injunction to prevent any future copyright infringement. Among other things, the men are prohibited from operating the Set TV Now service, as well as any website, system, software, or service that is substantially similar.
With judgments against all defendants, the most recent order effectively ends the SET TV lawsuit. However, it’s certainly not the end of ACE’s legal campaigns.
A copy of the default judgment granted by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Fitzgerald, is available here (pdf).