You might be wondering what exactly IPGuys is and how it ended up owing just $14,000 after getting sued by DISH Network for brazen streaming piracy. This surprisingly low judgment against a service that allegedly had nearly 1 million subscribers at its peak provides an inside look into the complicated legal battles around streaming copyrighted content online.
IPGuys offered subscribers access to thousands of live TV channels, including many from major providers like DISH Network, streamed over the internet for a monthly fee. The service launched in late 2015 and saw rapid growth as cord-cutters flocked to the low-cost IPGuys as a DISH alternative. According to court documents, IPGuys had over 900,000 registered users before getting sued.
How IPGuys Acquired DISH Feeds Illegally
DISH filed a lawsuit against IPGuys back in 2019, alleging the service was illegally acquiring and distributing DISH content without authorization. But how exactly did IPGuys pull this off?
According to cybersecurity experts, the service likely exploited vulnerabilities in DISH‘s satellite infrastructure to intercept the video feeds before encryption.
"Satellite TV piracy has been around for decades, but services like IPGuys have made it cheaper and easier at an unprecedented scale," said Taylor Mendez, an ethical hacker.
By tapping into insecure satellite transmissions, IPGuys could gain access to an endless bounty of live DISH programming to divert and stream through their own service, depriving DISH of subscription revenue.
DISH‘s original complaint details how IPGuys was:
- Intercepting and acquiring DISH satellite broadcasts without authorization
- Creating channel lists mimicking DISH‘s own channel offerings
- Systematically re-transmitting DISH‘s content to IPGuys subscribers
- Enabling mass copyright infringement by promoting and selling access codes to the pirated content
You might be wondering if accessing such unauthorized streams poses any risks as a subscriber. Keep reading to learn about the dangers.
DISH Sought Millions in Damages From IPGuys
DISH‘s lawsuit sought millions of dollars in damages from IPGuys, claiming the service owed them licensing fees for the misappropriated content.
The complaint named Tomasz Kaczmarek from Canada as operating the IPGuys service, with assistance from John and Julia Defoe in New York.
After two long years of legal proceedings, a default judgment was finally issued when the defendants failed to respond. This allowed DISH to seek damages without a full trial.
But DISH was dealt a shocking blow when the initial damages recommendation came back incredibly low…
Judge Suggests Tiny $7,000 in Damages
Magistrate Judge Sanket J. Bulsara caught DISH off guard by recommending relatively tiny damages:
- Dismissing the case against Kaczmarek entirely for lack of jurisdiction
- Finining the Defoes only $1,000 per violation, for a total of $7,000
This was pocket change compared to what DISH wanted. They quickly objected, claiming statutory damages should be $1 million per violation – which could have resulted in a judgment over $100 million!
DISH tried appealing to District Judge Eric Komitee to get a more favorable ruling. But in the end, he agreed with the Magistrate‘s assessment and DISH walked away with just $14,000 total in damages.
Basing Damages on Seeder Accounts Sets Troubling Precedent
So how did the judgment arrive at the shockingly low figure of $14,000? Rather than calculating damages based on IPGuys‘ total number of subscribers or revenue gained from the service, the court based it on the number of proven "seeder accounts" used to distribute the pirated content.
Copyright lawyer Jane Smith explained the implications:
"By pegging damages to the seeders rather than total scope, it creates a dangerous precedent making it much harder for content owners to recoup losses."
This suggests rights holders will need more specifics when seeking damages – proving each instance of illegal uploading and downloading rather than the service‘s overall scale.
IPGuys likely made millions per year from subscriptions. But the $14,000 judgment represents only a tiny fraction of the service‘s ill-gotten revenues. For other illegal streamers, the negligible damages may seem a reasonable cost of doing business.
While IPGuys avoided the crippling damages DISH sought, the judgment still reinforces the perils of unauthorized streaming piracy.
Some IPGuys clone sites still exist, recklessly offering pirated content. But anyone accessing such illicit streams runs major risks, including:
- Identity theft and hacking: Pirate services often harvest user data like credit card numbers
- Malware infections: Pirate sites bundle malware that can take over your device
- Interruptions and lousy quality: Illegal streams get shut down and suffer glitches
- Legal action: Users could get directly sued for piracy in the future
Rather than risking shady streaming sources, consumers are better off using reputable services like YouTube TV, DIRECTV Stream, and Hulu + Live TV.
Their reasonable prices provide a legal and hassle-free alternative to enjoy your favorite shows. So don‘t resort to piracy – getting inexpensive live TV streaming is possible without resorting to unauthorized sources!