DISH Network LLC and Sling TV LLC won a DMCA violation case against James Dustin Meadows and another individual, doing business as Louisville Media Box (LMB). The initial complaint was filed in 2021.
As a final judgment, the US District Court in Kentucky dismissed the case from its active docket, but the case can be appealed. Interest on the $5,735,000.00 judgment will accrue at a rate of 5.34% annually. This represents $1,000.00 per violation, for 5,735 DMCA violations. Under the DMCA, parties may seek up to $2,500.00 in damages per violation.
The original complaint cited Louisville Media Box of selling subscriptions, access codes and illicit streaming devices “designed to enable access to pirate television services which allow Defendants’ customers access to Plaintiffs’ transmissions of television programming by providing the means to decrypt and acquire it without authorization.”
In other words, LMB circumvented security measures used by DISH and Sling TV, which is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 1201 (DMCA). DISH and Sling TV encrypt programming using Google’s Widevine DRM, Apple’s FairPlay DRM, and Microsoft’s PlayReady DRM to make programming accessible to only authorized paid subscribers.
How the stolen programming was distributed
Louisville Media Box pirate streaming services were preloaded onto set-top boxes and personal streaming devices, sold under the LMB banner at trade shows, State Fairs, and via Facebook pages.
The Louisville Media Box pirate service was marketed as having more than 3,500 channels, with “Premium, PPV and Sports Channels Included” on Facebook for $10 a month. Despite the current court order, Facebook posts advertising the service were still up in late August as this article was written. It’s unknown as to whether Facebook has been notified to take it down.
“Access to every station including movie channels and locals. Has over 11,000 movies on demand. That’s three times more content than Netflix. Also a server with over 1500 different shows that you can watch with one click on demand. Set up your own favorites with the simple click if you got any more questions pm me,” said the defendants.
Pre-loaded illicit streaming devices were sold for prices ranging from $250 to $275. The complaint document noted that the pirates sold 34 of these devices in one day during September 2020. Louisville Media Box sold additional device codes for these illicit devices at a rate of five connections at $20 per month
How they were caught
An investigative firm was retained, to purchase an Amazon Fire Stick from Louisville Media Box. The device was preloaded with a twelve month Venom Platinum subscription. The purchase was made through PayPal, and the payment recipient was “Dustin’s Traveling Barber Services” with an email address of one of the two individual defendants.
Identifiers unique to the television broadcasts of Sling were detected when viewing Sling Programming on the Pirate Services, including the following channels by example: FX, MLB Network, Pursuit, DUST, Ride TV, and EPIX Drive-In, confirming Sling’s internet transmissons are the source of the Sling Programming retransmitted on the Pirate Services.
Despite being sent Cease and Desist letters in early 2021, the pirates continued offering their serices. Later in 2021, one of the investigators purchased one of LMB’s pre-loaded illicit streaming devices.
Order .DISH Network LLC and Sling TV LLC Plaintiffs v Kevin Hibdon, James Dustin Meadows, individually and DBA Louisville Media Box. Case 3:21-cv-655. Document 45. August 15, 2023. US District Court of the Western District of Kentucky.
Judgment. DISH Network LLC and Sling TV LLC Plaintiffs v Kevin Hibdon, James Dustin Meadows, individually and DBA Louisville Media Box. Case 3:21-cv-655. Document 46. August 15, 2023. US District Court of the Western District of Kentucky.
Report & Recommendation. DISH Network LLC and Sling TV LLC Plaintiffs v Kevin Hibdon, James Dustin Meadows, individually and DBA Louisville Media Box. Case 3:21-cv-655. Document 44. July 21, 2023. US District Court of the Western District of Kentucky.
Complaint. DISH Network LLC and Sling TV LLC Plaintiffs v Kevin Hibdon, James Dustin Meadows, individually and DBA Louisville Media Box. Case 3:21-cv-655. Document 1. October 28, 2021. US District Court of the Western District of Kentucky.
Why it matters
Pirates distribute unlicensed programming and content in a variety of ways, including via download, torrent and streaming. This case involved illicit streaming devices that were pre-programmed to illegally re-distribute DISH programming
DISH and Sling TV have pursued many similar cases to this point, and have developed a standardized methodology. While the organization is not mentioned for this case, many of the cases are supported by the International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy (IBCAP), a joint venture of DISH and NagraStar with more than 50 member companies whose content is carried by DISH and Sling TV. IBCAP assists in collecting piracy evidence by monitoring suspected infringers through technical means.