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Dish Network Wins $65 Million Judgment Against Sonicview

Dish Network Corp., the second-biggest U.S. satellite-television provider, won a $65 million summary judgment against Sonicview USA Inc., which was found liable for selling receivers that allowed for pirating of Dish programming.

U.S. District Judge James Lorenz in San Diego also ordered Duane Bernard, an authorized Sonicview dealer, and his brother Courtney to pay Dish $984,800 for distributing almost 5,000 Sonicview products capable of pirating the programming.

The $65 million judgment against Sonicview is a fifth of the $325 million Dish had sought for violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which allows damages of $1,000 for each device sold. At least 307,401 Sonicview receivers and 17,500 hubs were distributed, Lorenz wrote in his decision yesterday. Dish, based in Englewood, Colorado, won a $215 million judgment last year against Viewtech Inc. and its founder Jung Kwak.

“Given that Jung Kwak -- the purported ‘father’ of piracy-receiver distribution for the Sonicview defendants -- was assessed $200 per violation in statutory damages, this court does the same,” Lorenz wrote.

Sonicview, based in Oceanside, California, sold receivers and accessories that were designed to circumvent Dish’s security measures encrypting its programming, according to Lorenz’s ruling.

Security Measures

Sonicview had argued that the receivers were designed and made in South Korea by Vicxon Corp. and it had no role in that process. The company also argued that the receivers and hubs are incapable of circumventing the security measures with only the factory-installed firmware.

A website owned by Courtney Bernard said the receivers can get premium channels such as Dish Network’s with third-party software, “which we do not provide or condone,” according to Lorenz’s ruling.

The judge also ordered Sonicview to destroy all the receivers and hubs in its possession.

Sonicview officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment left on voice-mail after regular business hours in California.

The case is Dish Network LLC v. Sonicview USA Inc. 09-cv-1553. U.S. District Court, Southern District of California. (San Diego).

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