Sellers of ATN Pirate Service Ordered to Pay More Than $32M
Federal court rules that defendant’s financial liability cannot be shielded by bankruptcy, the IBCAP reported
DENVER—The International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy (IBCAP) has announced that a federal district court and a federal bankruptcy court in Florida have ordered Hisham Manse Ibrahem and Nezar Saeed Hammo, U.S.-based sellers of the pirate service ATN, to pay $32,100,000 in combined damages for willful copyright infringement.
Both individuals were selling the ATN service through a company known as Alfa TV Inc., which was also found liable, along with Haitham Mansi, a Sweden-based owner and operator of Alfa TV, Inc. Notably, the ATN service is no longer carrying IBCAP-protected channels in the U.S., the IBCAP reported.
The evidence for this case was collected by IBCAP's anti-piracy lab in coordination with NAGRA.
The cases were filed by IBCAP member Dish Network.
One of the co-defendants, Nezar Saeed Hammo, filed bankruptcy during the pendency of the district court action in an attempt to avoid liability. But, as with similar actions against willful copyright infringers, the bankruptcy court ruled the judgment non-dischargeable and that the defendant can’t use the bankruptcy system to avoid liability for willful copyright infringement.
Both courts ordered the defendants to cease “distributing, providing, selling, or promoting any product, or service, including ATN set-top boxes, apps, service subscriptions, and any other set-top boxes and television subscription services, that reproduce, copy, transmit, stream, distribute, or publicly perform any of the [IBCAP Member Channels at issue] or any of the programming that comprises or appears on any of the [IBCAP Member Channels at issue] in the United States.”
“Yet again, the federal courts have levied huge financial awards against individuals in the U.S. who were selling pirate services,” said Chris Kuelling, executive director of IBCAP. “This case is another example of why it is not worth the risk for retailers to sell pirate services. It is also important to point out that sellers of pirate services cannot use bankruptcy to shield against their illegal activities. Here, as with other willful copyright infringers who have sought to use bankruptcy to avoid judgments, the bankruptcy court concluded that the judgment against Mr. Hammo is not discharged by the bankruptcy.”
A copy of the district court order can be found here (opens in new tab); a copy of the bankruptcy court order can be found here (opens in new tab).
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George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.