Media giant ABS-CBN has filed a lawsuit against a Texas man who stands accused of of selling pirate streaming devices. The defendant, who allegedly promoted the boxes through various Facebook pages, faces millions of dollars in potential damages.
ABS-CBN, the largest media and entertainment company in the Philippines, is continuing its legal campaign against piracy.
Over the past several years, the company has singled out dozens of streaming sites that offer access to ‘Pinoy’ content without permission, both in the US and abroad.
While these traditional sites remain a key focus for the company, ABS-CBN is expanding its scope in the US by going after an alleged seller of pirate streaming boxes.
In a complaint filed at a federal court in Texas, the company accuses local resident Anthony Brown of selling and promoting pirate devices through the Life for Greatness website. By doing so, the man violates ABS-CBN’s rights, the company stresses.
“Defendant has been engaged in a scheme to, without authorization, sell Pirate Equipment that retransmits ABS-CBN’s programming to his customers as Pirate Services,” the complaint, filed at the Southern District of Texas Court, reads.
The media company notes that its own investigators purchased pirate equipment from Brown, which was then shipped from within Texas. These orders were likely placed at the Life for Greatness website, which remains online at the time of writing and is operated by ‘1700 Cuts Technology.’
In addition, the complaint notes that the pirate devices were advertised and promoted through various Facebook pages. This includes two personal profiles and a business page for “Lifeforgreatness.”
“Defendant has used several Facebook.com social media pages to advertise and promote the availability of the Pirate Equipment for sale by
Defendant,” the complaint notes.
The Facebook pages also remain online today. And indeed, the Lifeforgreatness account is used to advertise what appear to be pirate streaming boxes and subscriptions. This is in part carried out by utilizing footage that shows the logos of ABS-CBN and other major entertainment outfits.
In a Facebook post, the box vendor writes that cable companies overcharge customers each and every day. By switching to one of the advertised boxes, people can cut their bills and still get the same channels, the post adds.
“The box automatically updates on its own as well as provides content that you are currently paying between $4.99 to $300.00 a month for. The Smart to box have over 500,000 movies, TV shows and Live TV from every country the world including the USA,” the post adds.
This is not an isolated incident. There are hundreds of similar businesses that (re)sell pirate boxes and subscriptions while advertising them on social media. The defendant, in this case, seems to be a relatively small fish with just a few dozen Facebook likes.
However, that doesn’t mean that ABS-CBN is holding back when it comes to its demands.
The media company requests hundreds of thousands in damages for providing unauthorized access to its communication signals, which violates the Communications Act. In addition, it asks for $2 million in statutory damages for every trademark infringement.
Interestingly, there is no copyright damages claim. However, the company does want the seller to halt his infringing activities and requests the court to impound the pirate devices.
A copy of the complaint filed by ABS-CBN at the Southern District of Texas Court is available here (pdf).
Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.