IBCAP: Fine against pirate site UlaiTV’s operator may exceed $1.3M

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The International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy (IBCAP) announced a final judgment against Gaby Fraifer, the individual responsible for operating and selling an Arabic-language streaming service delivered online via multiple -.com and -.au domains; for copyright infringement.  The decision also covered the two companies that Fraifer controlled.   The channels originated from outside the United States and licensed for distribution in the US by DISH Network LLC.

Fraifer and his companies were found to have intentionally operated encoders and CDNs to deliver stolen content to set-top boxes.  The services did business as UlaiTV, PlanetiTV and AhlaiTV.  The companies were Tele-center, Inc. and Planet Telecom, Inc.  DISH Network and a number of individual networks had sent more than 150 take-down take-down requests between June 2015 and January 2017.

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Judgment and injunction

The judgment of $600,000 in damages was handed down after a multi-day trial. In addition, the Court awarded the recovery of more than $700,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs; bringing the total to more than $1.3 million.  The initial Complaint had called for maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per registered work, or, DISH’s actual damages and profits attributable to the copyright violations; plus fees and costs.

Screen-shot of UlaiTV pirate service. Image source: Amazon.com

The case was handled by the US District Court of the Middle District of Florida, because the defendant and his companies were all based in Tampa.

The US District Court also entered an injunction prohibiting Fraifer, his companies, their agents and others acting or participating with any of them, from publicly performing in the United States any works that air on certain Arabic-language channels. UlaiTV is no longer in operation.  Planet Telecom had been inactive from late 2015 to late 2016, when it became active again.

Outside support

IBCAP worked in support of DISH Network, which filed the Complaint in 2017.  According to the Complaint, UlaiTV and AhlaiTV were said to offer the pirate service itself for about $100 per year,  and the one-year service plus an illicit streaming device (set-top box) for about $200.

UlaiTV ad. Source: IBCAP

In turn, according to the Memorandum of Decision, IBCAP partnered with a Switzerland-based technical expert, whose report identified 861 instances of infringing distribution, including programming from four networks whose content was licensed exclusively to DISH.  The report identified dates of distribution and was confirmed by a security technician and by representatives of the licensed channels.

Read the Memorandum of Decision, Case number 8:16-cv-02549 

Read the Order for Permanent Injunction

Read the IBCAP press release

Read the Amended Complaint

Why it matters

“This ruling sends a clear message that operators of pirate services will continue to be identified, pursued and held accountable for their illegal actions,” said Chris Kuelling, executive director of IBCAP.  “…Federal courts will not tolerate copyright infringement and will not only shut down illegal streaming, but will also award statutory damages, attorneys’ fees and costs to those who have been harmed,”

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