LOS ANGELES (CN) - A federal judge ordered Chinese-based broadcasters to stop streaming unauthorized television programs to subscribers in the United States.
U.S. District Judge Margaret Morrow granted a preliminary injunction June 11 against lead defendant Create New Technology and two other Chinese companies, four in the United States, and several people, many of them operating dbas.
Plaintiffs China Central Television, China International Communications, TVB Holdings (USA) and Dish Network sued the long list of defendants in March, accusing them of copyright and trademark infringement, unfair competition and business law violations.
The defendants provide customers with a TVpad box for a onetime fee, enabling them to watch unlicensed television programs and channels from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other Asian nations.
The Chinese defendants "have set up a pirate broadcasting network that ... brazenly captures entire closed-circuit TV and TVB television channels and video-on-demand programming from Asia and streams that programming over the Internet" to TVpad devices in the United States, according to the complaint.
The defendants sell the TVpad for about $300 and have a free app store so users can download pirating software.
The broadcasters claim the defendants "have built their entire business around blatant copyright infringement" and use plaintiffs' logos to claim falsely that they are authorized to broadcast the shows.
They claim the defendants store content on servers in the United States and stream them through a peer-to-peer network and from other servers in China. They promote infringing apps and falsely claim infringing programming is authorized while working with third parties to "develop and improve infringing content by providing customer support and technical assistance," according to the complaint.
Morrow said it is in the public interest to grant the preliminary injunction to protect copyright and prevent "the misappropriation of skills, creative energies, and resources which are invested" in the copyrighted programs.
Any "interest the public may have 'in receiving copyrighted content for free is outweighed by the need to incentivize the creation of original works,'" Morrow wrote.
The illegally streamed programs hurt legitimate broadcasters by reducing their number of subscribers and making it harder to negotiate licensing agreements, Morrow said.
Illegally streamed programs sometimes are available hours before the authorized programs are broadcast.
"Given the extensive nature of the infringement alleged ... it is unlikely defendants would be able to satisfy any damages award entered" and "injunctive relief is appropriate," Morrow wrote.
Defendants include Create New Technology (HK) Limited and HUA Yang International Technology Limited of Hong Kong; Shenzhen Greatvision Network Technology Ltd. of mainland China; and Club TVpad in California, with affiliates in Florida and Texas.
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