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'Big Fat Hollow Victory' for DISH in Satellite TV Piracy Battle

Dish20logo Rupert Murdoch shouldn't have much trouble paying an award against one of his companies in a satellite television piracy suit. While EchoStar's DISH Network had been seeking more than $1 billion in damages, a federal jury in Santa Ana, Calif, said Murdoch's NDS Group should pay only $1,500.

"We've been completely vindicated on this whole lawsuit," NDS attorney Richard Stone told Reuters with understandable hyperbole after the verdict was read. NDS makes encryption technology for Murdoch's DirecTV satellite network.

DISH alleged that NDS hired rogue software engineers to hack into its network, steal software code, and post information on the Internet that allowed users to unscramble its signals and receive satellite TV for free. But the verdict form shows the jury found NDS liable only on Federal Communications Act and California Penal Code claims related to a single incident with a satellite TV smart card.

In a statement, EchoStar tried to make the best of it. "While we are disappointed in the jury’s damages award, we are pleased that NDS will be responsible for our attorney fees in this case, and that we were completely vindicated on NDS' meritless counterclaims," it said.

Multichannel News blogger Linda Moss was less charitable. "EchoStar won the case in principle, but it was one big fat hollow victory," she commented.