DirecTV Slaps 80 with Piracy Suit

Hoping to squelch continued piracy activities involving its digital satellite
service, DirecTV Inc. filed a federal lawsuit against 80 people whom the company
believes trafficked illegal theft equipment from Canada for sale in the United

DirecTV alleged that the illegal equipment -- pirated access cards and
reprogramming devices -- enabled viewers to unscramble and view programming
without legal authorization.

The El Segundo, Calif.-based company filed the complaint March 16 in the U.S.
District Court, Central District of California. DirecTV alleged that 80
defendants bought the illegal gear from Quebec resident Reginald Scullion and
his wife, Frances Callan.

DirecTV, which is quickly approaching the 10 million-subscriber mark, said it
won a $19 million federal judgement against the couple in January for illegal
exportation of hacked technology from Canada to the United States, and the
company alleged that those named in the latest complaint acted as dealers for
Scullion and Callan.

'This aggressive action, against multiple defendants, underscores our
steadfast commitment to protect the integrity of our signal,' DirecTV vice
president of signal security Larry Rissler said in a press release.

DirecTV was successful in another prior suit against an international
satellite-piracy ring, winning a $34 million judgement from a federal court in

Meanwhile, DirecTV said it will continue to disable illegally modified cards
through electronic countermeasures.

On Jan. 21, a week before Super Bowl XXXV, DirecTV dropped a 'data bomb' in
its broadcast signal to fry doctored conditional-access cards. At the time,
DirecTV officials called the electronic countermeasure 'by far our most
successful effort.'

Despite DirecTV's success on what pirates have dubbed 'Black Sunday,' hackers
have been undaunted in their efforts to circumvent those measures to steal the
DBS company's signals.

Ever since the January attack, hacker Web sites have posted several 'Black
Sunday Fix' advertisements, offering new technology designed to shield hackers
from future data-bomb attacks by DirecTV.