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Federal District and Bankruptcy Courts in Florida Order Sellers of ATN Pirate Service to Pay More Than $32 Million in Combined Damages

 

U.S.-based sellers who refused to comply with IBCAP takedown notices now liable; court rules that defendant’s financial liability cannot be shielded by bankruptcy

February 9, 2023 — The International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy (IBCAP) today announced that in related cases, a federal district court and a federal bankruptcy court, both in Florida, have ordered Hisham Manse Ibrahem and Nezar Saeed Hammo, U.S.-based sellers of the pirate service ATN, to pay $32,100,000 in combined damages for willful copyright infringement. Both individuals were selling the ATN service through a company known as Alfa TV Inc., which was also found liable, along with Haitham Mansi, a Sweden-based owner and operator of Alfa TV, Inc. Notably, the ATN service is no longer carrying IBCAP-protected channels in the U.S.

One of the co-defendants, Nezar Saeed Hammo, filed bankruptcy during the pendency of the district court action in an attempt to avoid liability. An adversary complaint was filed against Mr. Hammo to determine the non-dischargeability of the debt against him. As with similar actions against willful copyright infringers, the bankruptcy court ruled the judgment non-dischargeable, again showing that infringers cannot use the bankruptcy system to avoid liability for willful copyright infringement.

Both courts ordered the defendants to cease “distributing, providing, selling, or promoting any product, or service, including ATN set-top boxes, apps, service subscriptions, and any other set-top boxes and television subscription services, that reproduce, copy, transmit, stream, distribute, or publicly perform any of the [IBCAP Member Channels at issue] or any of the programming that comprises or appears on any of the [IBCAP Member Channels at issue] in the United States.”

“Yet again, the federal courts have levied huge financial awards against individuals in the U.S. who were selling pirate services,” said Chris Kuelling, executive director of IBCAP. “This case is another example of why it is not worth the risk for retailers to sell pirate services. It is also important to point out that sellers of pirate services cannot use bankruptcy to shield against their illegal activities. Here, as with other willful copyright infringers who have sought to use bankruptcy to avoid judgments, the bankruptcy court concluded that the judgment against Mr. Hammo is not discharged by the bankruptcy.”

The evidence for this case was collected by IBCAP’s anti-piracy lab in coordination with NAGRA.

The cases were filed by IBCAP member DISH Network. A copy of the district court order can be found here; a copy of the bankruptcy court order can be found here.

 

About IBCAP

 

International Broadcaster Coalition Against Piracy, Inc. (IBCAP) is a coalition of leading international and U.S. content owners, broadcasters and distributors representing more than 170 television channels from the U.S. and around the world. As the largest anti-piracy organization focused on illicit services offering multicultural content, the non-profit organization proactively monitors and identifies unauthorized video services, collects evidence and assists with legal actions and criminal investigations against organizations and individuals engaging in pirate activities. IBCAP coordinates with government agencies and law enforcement both in the U.S. and abroad, reports suspected infringers to the appropriate authorities, initiates investigations and promotes the prosecution of persons or companies who participate in the illegal distribution of its members’ video content. More information is available at www.IBCAP.org. Follow us on LinkedIn.

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