CEO of iStar pirate service ordered to personally pay $15.7 million: IBCAP

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Following a July 2022 judgment and permanent injunction already issued against Atlas Electronics, which shut down sales through one of its US retailers, the iStar IPTV service and its CEO, Ahmed Karim, were ordered by a federal court in Michigan to pay $15,700,000 in damages. iStar is of the largest pirate services distributing multicultural content illegally in the U.S.

This November 2022 order also required iStar to remove channels distributed into the US by members of the International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy (IBCAP) from its service.

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In addition to injunction against iStar, the Southern Division of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan also:

  • Enjoined all dealers, distributors and sellers of the iStar service.
  • Ordered Worldstream B.V. and certain other hosting providers to disable certain IP addresses used by iStar and cease providing other services to iStar.
  • Ordered VeriSign, Inc. and Registry Services, LLC to disable certain iStar-related websites and transfer key domain names used by iStar to market and operate the service.

The case was filed by IBCAP member DISH Network

Highly lucrative

Rationale behind the Istar Service was likely highly profitable because iStar and Karim have distributed the exclusively licensed channels on a 24/7 basis since at least March 2016, presumably because doing so is profitable. (ECF No. 29-4, PageID.1017–1021, 1023, 1025–1032.) Indeed, to just one reseller, in one shipment, Istar and Karim sold 300 receivers for $22.60/each and 200 receivers for $18/each, totaling $10,380.

Court award

The Court did not award statutory maximum of $150,000 per infringed work, but recognizing that statutory damages are more than just compensatory, and are intended to have a deterrent effect, the Court did award $100,000 in statutory damages for each infringed work.

Thus, the Court finds that DISH is entitled to a statutory damages award of $15,700,000 ($100,000 for each of the 157 works registered within three months of the work’s first publication).

Read the US District Court Order

Read the IBCAP press release, IBCAP-Coordinated Lawsuit Results in Massive Takedown Ruling Against iSTar Pirate Service – iStar CEO Ordered to Personally Pay $15.7 Million, November 7, 2022

Why it matters

“As with other lawsuits coordinated by IBCAP against pirate services, our goal is to obtain court orders that result in the removal of IBCAP member channels, if not the shutdown of the service entirely. The crux of our strategy is to secure broad injunctions which effectively remove the elements necessary for the operation of a pirate service such as hosting providers, CDNs, domain registrars and dealers,” said Chris Kuelling, executive director of IBCAP.

“Once such order is obtained, the next phase is methodical and persistent enforcement against these critical elements of the pirate network. This strategy has consistently proven effective in shutting down a long list of pirate services. We look forward to having iStar join that list,” said Mr. Kuelling.


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