The transition of TV from analog to digital has resulted in an explosion in the way people receive and consume programming. While this has mostly benefited the copyright holders and the Multi‐channel Video Programming Distributors (MVPD), it has also brought about problems with piracy and copyright infringement. Nigel Jones has worked as an expert witness in the field for many years and had a key role in several major cases. He’s evaluated conditional access systems, reverse engineered devices designed for piracy, and worked on what was described as the biggest TV case in thirty years.
DISH Network v. NDS
Nigel Jones was a key expert witness for the victorious defendant in a case described by media as the largest corporate espionage case in U.S. history. Mr. Jones was retained by News Corporation’s NDS Group (now known as Cisco Videoscape) in a $1.6B piracy lawsuit brought by DISH Network (formerly EchoStar) in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Mr. Jones analyzed the source code in the smart card at issue, and investigated the hacks that were promulgated on the Internet, allegedly by the defendant. He demonstrated to the jury both errors in the opposing experts’ analysis and also that the hack did not emanate from the defendant’s reverse engineering.
After a five-week trial and six hours of deliberations, jurors ruled in favor of NDS on most of the allegations. In denying many of the claims, the jury awarded actual damages of $45.69 (or statutory damages of $1,000), relating to a single incident involving a test card used by NDS. The Daily Journal called the victory one of the top 10 California defense verdicts of 2008.
The Ninth Circuit further awarded defendant NDS $18M in costs, stating in its decision that “There is no question that NDS successfully defended against all of EchoStar’s claims based on or related to its theory that NDS was responsible for the compromise of EchoStar’s satellite television programming security system.”
Subsequent to the Ninth Circuit’s decision, DISH Network retained Nigel Jones as an expert in a series of cases against vendors of Free to Air Satellite TV receivers.
DISH Network v. Sonicview
After Nigel Jones helped NDS defeat DISH Network in a major corporate espionage trial, DISH Network was sufficiently impressed with his work to turn to him for help in defeating piracy of their satellite TV signal by so-called Free to Air Satellite TV receivers.
The distributors of the receivers in question alleged the product had a legitimate use. However, it was known the receivers were widely used for DISH Network piracy. Thus the essential question to be answered was, “Is there evidence to either support or disprove the hypothesis that these receivers were designed explicitly for piracy?” The analysis involved studying the hardware in the receivers and investigating the factory and pirate firmware. This case was challenging in that it required extensive knowledge of hardware, firmware, and manufacturing methods.
After performing detailed analysis on dozens of receivers, Mr. Jones was able to clearly demonstrate that they were indeed designed for piracy. This first case settled shortly after the submission of his report, with an agreed judgment in the amount of $106M being entered, along with a permanent injunction barring any further importation, distribution, or other trafficking in the illicit receivers.
Mr. Jones has generated detailed reports in support of multiple cases in both the USA and Canada. Using his reports in this and related cases, DISH Network has won a series of judgments including $121.7M against Panarex, $626M against Global Technologies, $214M against Viewtech, $65M against Sonicview, and $27M against Vicxon Corporation. More importantly, this string of legal victories has led to FTA piracy being reduced to negligible levels. In all cases the court relied heavily on the expert opinion of Mr. Jones.
WNET v. Aereo
Aereo was a startup company that attempted to exploit the Second Circuit’s Cablevision decision regarding copyright infringement. Aero used a massive array of individual antennas to broadcast content over the internet to paying subscribers. As such Aereo represented a significant threat to the business model of the major broadcasters. The threat was seen as so severe that News Corp threatened to take Fox off the air if Aereo was permitted to continue operation. With so much at stake, Fox turned to Nigel Jones to gain a complete understanding of Aereo’s technology—including how it worked, its limitations, and its performance.
Following a court order, Mr. Jones was provided with an exemplar of Aereo’s antenna board and source code. He proceeded to thoroughly analyze the system and quickly created a test environment to allow accurate performance measurements to be taken. Together with the plaintiffs’ antenna expert, Nigel Jones spent two days at an anechoic chamber evaluating the performance of Aereo’s antenna technology, followed by multiple site visits where in situ testing was performed. This test data was at the heart of the plaintiff’s technical case against Aereo. Before the technical arguments could be heard, the case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court who, in a very closely watched 6-3 decision, ruled that Aereo was publicly performing the plaintiffs’ copyrighted works. Aereo ceased operations shortly afterwards and settled all remaining claims.