The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted summary judgment to DISH Network LLC on all its claims in an International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy (IBCAP) coordinated lawsuit against Jadoo TV, Inc. and its U.S. based CEO, Sajid Sohail, held them liable for direct, contributory, and vicarious copyright infringement. The verdict was passed by Judge Charles R. Breyer.
Chris Kuelling, Executive Director of IBCAP commented, “This ruling goes further than many other copyright cases coordinated by IBCAP. Here, the owner and CEO of one of the most popular South Asian services offering infringing content will not be permitted to hide behind a corporate shield and has been found personally liable for the damages caused by his and his company’s copyright infringement.”
He added, “IBCAP and its members will not tolerate piracy, and the U.S. courts have once again not only sided with us by handing down a judgment against an infringing service, but also holding an owner personally accountable.”
The Court found that Jadoo had violated DISH’s copyright by ‘enhancing users’ access to the infringing content and ‘uploading and instigating distribution of the content.’
In November 2018, DISH Network filed a copyright complaint against Jadoo TV, a distributor of self-branded set-top IPTV boxes and later various software apps. DISH also sued Jadoo TV CEO, Sajid Sohail.
The complaint described Jadoo TV’s operation as a ‘wide-ranging, deliberate, multi-year effort’ to distribute the plaintiff’s exclusively-licensed TV channels without authorization. DISH filed claims for direct, contributory, and vicarious infringement and alleged violations of 17 U.S.C. Section 501.
DISH contended that Sohail could be held personally liable because he authorized, directed, or participated in Jadoo TV’s copyright-infringing activities.
Following this, in February 2019, Jadoo TV and Sohail denied the allegations, and in July 2020, DISH filed an amended complaint.
A month later, Sohail filed his answer and a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Jadoo TV’s CEO insisted that DISH could not hold him personally liable, but in September 2020, the court found that allegations in the amended complaint raised a ‘plausible inference’ that Sohail ‘authorized, directed, or participated in the alleged infringement’ so denied his motion to dismiss.
In respect of direct infringement, the Court found that there was no genuine dispute that DISH owned the copyrighted material, that Defendants violated DISH’s exclusive right, that Defendants acted with volition, and that Sohail was personally liable as Jadoo’s director.
“There is no genuine dispute that Jadoo knew about the infringement and could have implemented several simple measures to prevent it,” the order finding in favor of DISH reads. Accordingly, Jadoo materially contributed to the infringement, and thus is liable for contributory infringement,” the Court observed.
The Court noted that the defendants- Jadoo TV did not contest that the infringement provided some financial benefit, which was all that was required to find defendants liable for vicarious infringement.
The order reads, “the only evidence offered — including evidence from Defendants’ expert —unequivocally demonstrates that Jadoo profited from the infringement.”
Consequently, the Court granted DISH’s motion for summary judgment and ordered the parties to submit a joint filing on the subject of what relief the Court should provide to DISH within 45 days.
DISH contended that it was entitled to statutory damages, Jadoo’s profits, attorneys’ fees, and a permanent injunction. The final amount is yet to be determined.