Federal court issues $26.5M judgment against operators of My Indian TV: IBCAP

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The US District Court of the Southern District of New York issued a judgment of $26,550,000 against Sanjeev Kumar and Tsvetomir Dobrilov, operators of the My Indian TV service and the MyIndian.tv and NewMyIndian.tv websites, which carried programming that had been licensed for distribution in the US by DISH Network.

The judgment is against the operators personally, according to an announcement by the International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy (IBCAP), of which DISH is a member.

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The defendants also operated a YouTube channel where they posted videos instructing customers on how to use the My Indian TV Service to access unauthorized content from the Protected Channels (and thus infringe copyrights).

The My Indian TV Service was targeted at audiences in North America and did “not provide any kind of service or support in India.” Source: Complaint. US District Court of the Southern District of New York, Case 21-CV-6730

In addition to accessing My Indian TV via a Web browser, users could also install a My Indian TV plug-in for the Kodi open-source media center software platform. The Kodi plug-in and mobile apps were downloadable from a My Indian TV Web site. My Indian TV was also available to Android and iOS device users, via a free third-party app called the Matrix TV Browser, downloadable from links provided on the Websites.

They knew it was wrong and didn’t respond

According to the original complaint, the defendants had full knowledge that distributing the copyrighted channels in the United States on the My Indian TV Service infringed DISH’s copyrights. Between November 2018 and the filing of the complaint in March of 2022, DISH sent at least 21 separate cease and desist notices to email addresses used by Kumar or Dobrilov.

DISH also sent more than 40 additional cease and desist notices to vendors used by the defendants to distribute and publicly present their service, including hosting providers and IPTV Solutions, Ltd, the entity that the defendants used to receive payments from Service Users. The defendants failed to respond to any of these cease and desist notices.

Decision and penalty

The court also ruled that the defendants are prohibited from streaming the channels of IBCAP member companies, and from advertising or selling the My Indian TV service.  They are also prohibited from engaging resellers and online service providers – such as CDNs and hosting companies – from distributing the services.  The registrars of the defendants’ domains were required to transfer the domain names used by the defendants.

As a result of the lawsuit, My Indian TV shut down and left the US market in about April of 2022.  Based on guidelines in US Code, damages were calculated at a rate of $150,000 for each of the 177 works registered to DISH – resulting in a total of $26,550,000

Read the Judgment by the US District Court of the Southern District of New York, Case 1:21-cv-06730-JPO Document 41 (October 4, 2022)

Why it matters

The Judgment was against the individuals running My Indian TV, personally, because “they personally directed, authorized, supervised, or participated in, and financially benefited from such infringing conduct.  Defendants’ actions were willful, malicious, intentional, and purposeful, and in disregard of and with indifference to the rights of DISH.”

“This case marks yet another victory where IBCAP coordinated a lawsuit with its member companies resulting in the shutdown of a major pirate service in the U.S.,” said Chris Kuelling, executive director of IBCAP.”

“With broad injunctive tools such as prohibitions against CDNs and hosting providers supporting the pirate service, banning retailers from selling the pirate services and transfers of key domain names used by the pirate operators, we can cripple pirate services to a point where they have no choice but to exit the market. We will continue to deploy this highly effective strategy to benefit our IBCAP members,” he said.
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