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DirecTV Takes Piracy Hunt Up North

DirecTV Inc. said Thursday that it has filed a lawsuit in Ontario against 19 Canadian citizens and five of their businesses.

The direct-broadcast satellite provider said it believes those individuals and businesses were participating in a scheme to activate fraudulent DirecTV accounts that enabled individuals to receive its signals without authorization by or proper payment to DirecTV.

The company filed a similar lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., against seven individuals from Florida, New Jersey and New York.

DirecTV added that it executed civil seizure orders at nine separate locations in southern Ontario and recovered computer files and business records related to the activation fraud scheme and grey-market activity, as well as equipment used in the past to modify its access cards to enable theft of programming.

The lawsuit alleged that the defendants used a complex network of companies and Web sites to provide bogus U.S. addresses and other false information to establish DirecTV accounts, which were then used to illegally activate programming for individuals who paid the defendants and not DirecTV.

Under provisions of Canada's Radiocommunication Act, the DBS company said it is entitled to damages in excess of $10 million, as well as punitive damages of $10 million.

“Since DirecTV secured its signal from pirates with new-generation access cards in June of last year, these individuals turned to other illegal means to receive DirecTV programming without our authorization," executive vice president of legal and business affairs Dan Fawcett said in a prepared statement.

“Through this action, we believe we have broken the piracy-fraud ring and, where grey-market activity is involved, it also demonstrates our commitment to respect the territorial limitation of our programming service and to prevent those in Canada from using false U.S. addresses to receive DirecTV service,” he added.