Jadoo TV and its CEO found liable for infringement; DISH seeks damages TBD

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A California judge granted a summary judgment against Jadoo TV, Inc., and its CEO, Sajid Sohail, finding them liable for direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. DISH’s lawsuit was coordinated by IBCAP, the International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy.

The company’s business model “allowed JadooTV to competitively harm DISH because JadooTV did not pay license fees to the channel owners, while DISH did pay licensing fees for the same channels,” according to the lawsuit (Complaint) filed in November of 2018.

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Jadoo TV is offered through a mobile app and was also pre-installed in an illicit streaming device called the “Jadoo TV” streaming box.  These are “sold pre- configured to locate and install software files needed to integrate the unlicensed television channels and seamlessly incorporate those channels into the Jadoo on- screen electronic program guide,” continued the complaint.

“By pre-configuring Jadoo set-top boxes to locate and install these software files, JadooTV is able to offer additional television channels in what it calls the ‘South Asian Super Pack,’ which includes the channels exclusively licensed to DISH.”

Screen shot: Jadoo TV. Source: Case 3:20-cv-01891-CRB Document 1. US District Court of the Northern District of California

Long history of infringement

Jadoo TV has been called “one of the most popular providers of South Asian content in the US and elsewhere.”  The complaint described “a wide-ranging, deliberate, multi- year effort by JadooTV to transmit television channels it failed to license in blatant disregard of DISH’s exclusive rights. JadooTV’s scheme targeted television channels exclusively licensed to DISH to increase JadooTV’s channel offerings, to appeal to consumers, to avoid licensing fees, and to create a competitive advantage against DISH.”

According to DISH 2018 Complaint, “JadooTV is well aware that DISH holds the exclusive rights to distribute and publicly perform the Protected Channels in the United States. Since November 2013, DISH and the Networks have sent at least 50 written notices of infringement to JadooTV about the retransmission of the Protected Channels and the works that aired on the Protected Channels in the United States.”

At the time this article was published, Jadoo TV was available through Amazon.com. One of the fulfillment options was to install its app directly to the Amazon Fire TV streaming box.

CEO deemed personally liable

Because Sohail was the “active and conscious force behind the infringing products, the Court found CEO Sohail to be the “guiding spirit” behind the infringement, and “principal decision-making authority as to responding to infringement notices.”  As founder, director and majority shareholder, he had the ability to unilaterally change company policy, and therefore was determined to be personally liable for the infringement as well.

In a ruling issued June 13, 2023, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted all claims asserted by DISH against Jadoo TV, Inc. and Sohail individually and denied Sohail’s motion as to all claims.

Final outcome to be determined

The situation is nuanced, leading the Judge to ask for a further briefing and directing the parties to submit a joint filing within 45 days, which would be by July 28th.  DISH seeks statutory damages only for the registered works, asks for Jadoo’s profits only for the unrigistered works, and a determination is needed as to which expenses might be deducted.

The parties were asked to provide guidance toward calculating those amounts.   DISH also seeks attorney’s fees and a permanent injunction, but because the infringement ended in 2019, a permanent injunction may not be appropriate. The defendants contest each of these items.

Jadoo TV was still available via Amazon.com on June 15, 2023, as a direct download to the Amazon Fire TV streaming box or from the cloud only as shown here (Image source: Screen shot, Amazon.com)

Further reading:

Order Granting DISH Motion For Summary Judgment, Denying Sohail Motion For Summary Judgment.  DISH Network LLC, Plaintiff, v., Jadoo TV, Inc., et al., Defendants.  Document 270, Filed June 13, 2023. Case 3:20-cv-01891-CRB.  US District Court for the Northern District of California.

DISH Network LLC, Plaintiff, v. Jadoo TV, Inc., Sajid Sohail, Haseeb Shag, East West Audio Video, Inc., and Punit Bhatt, Defendants. Case No. 2:18-cv-9768. Plaintiff’s Complaint for 1) Direct Copyright Infringement, 17 U.S.C. § 501; 2) Contributory/Inducing and Material Contribution to Copyright Infringement, 17 U.S.C. § 501; and 3) Vicarious Copyright Infringement, 17 U.S.C. § 501. Filed November 20, 2018. Case 3:20-cv-01891-CRB.  US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Federal Court in California Holds Jadoo TV and CEO Liable for Copyright Infringement in IBCAP Coordinated Lawsuit.  Press release. June 15, 2023. International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy (IBCAP)

Why it matters

“This ruling goes further than many other copyright cases coordinated by IBCAP,” said Chris Kuelling, executive director of IBCAP. “Here, the owner and CEO of one of the most popular South Asian services offering infringing content will not be permitted to hide behind a corporate shield and has been found personally liable for the damages caused by his and his company’s copyright infringement.

“IBCAP and its members will not tolerate piracy, and the U.S. courts have once again not only sided with us by handing down a judgment against an infringing service, but also holding an owner personally accountable,” said Mr. Kuelling.

DISH licensing details

Quoting from the November 2018 Complaint, “DISH contracts for and licenses rights for the international channels distributed on its platform from channel owners and their agents, including ARY Digital USA LLC; B4U U.S., Inc.; Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited; Century Media Network Inc.; Television Media Network (Pvt) Ltd; GEO USA LLC; Hum Network Limited; Impress Telefilm, Inc.; National Communications Services (SMC-PVT.) Limited; Soundview ATN LLC; Soundview Broadcasting LLC; and TV Today Network Ltd. (collectively, the “Networks”).

“The Networks’ channels include Aaj Tak; ARY Digital; ARY News; ATN Bangla; ATN News; B4U Music; Channel-i; Dunya TV; Express Entertainment; Express News; Geo News; Geo TV; Hum Masala; Hum Sitaray; Hum TV; Hum World; India Today (a/k/a/ Headlines Today); NTV Bangla; and Times Now (collectively, the “Protected Channels”). The Networks acquire copyrights in the works that air on their respective channels, including by producing the works and by assignment.

“DISH entered into signed, written licensing agreements with the Networks granting DISH the exclusive right to distribute and publicly perform the Protected Channels and works that air on the Protected Channels in the United States by means including satellite, OTT, Internet protocol television (“IPTV”), and the Internet.”

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