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Court Restricts DirecTV Lawsuits

June 16, 2004|From Bloomberg News

DirecTV Group Inc., the biggest U.S. satellite television provider, can't sue people for owning pirating equipment, an appeals court ruled.

Consumers' owning pirating technology without using it illegally does not injure DirecTV and give it a right to sue for damages, the Atlanta-based appeals court said in a decision made public Tuesday. DirecTV, based in El Segundo, may pursue other claims, such as illegal use, against those who own pirating equipment, the court said. DirecTV has filed 1,800 pirating suits in Florida and hundreds more in the Southeast.

DirecTV has said signal pirates cost its company millions of dollars in revenue. The decision was issued after DirecTV had agreed to curb a campaign against owners of signal-decrypting equipment, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based activist group.

"We're glad to see the court apply common sense to this issue," the group's attorney Jason Shultz said. Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, brought against Mike Treworgy, who allegedly owns and used pirating equipment.

DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer said the company was reviewing the ruling.

DirecTV rose 7 cents to $17.02 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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