CCTV, TVB sue set-top maker, allege piracy in US

Updated: 2015-04-02 11:06

By Lia Zhu in San Francisco(China Daily USA)

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Leading Chinese TV providers China Central Television (CCTV) and Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) have sued the makers of a set-top box, alleging unauthorized digital streaming and distribution of their programs in the United States.

The first hearing is expected to be held late this month, the companies' attorney said.

"I can confirm that we anticipate an early hearing in this case," attorney Lance Koonce told China Daily. "(We) indeed just last week filed a motion to accelerate that hearing even further, to late April," he said.

The lawsuit was filed against the manufacturers and distributors of TVpad device, which allegedly set up a broadcasting network that illegally streams CCTV and TVB channels using peer-to-peer technology.

A complaint was submitted on March 13 to the US District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles. Joining CCTV and TVB as plaintiffs are China International Communications Co Ltd and Dish Network LLC, a Colorado company that holds certain exclusive rights to distribute CCTV and TVB programming in the US.

The plaintiffs' complaint includes direct and secondary copyright infringement, trademark infringement and unfair competition.

"Over the past short period of time, CCTV and TVB, and their partner in the US, Dish, become aware of some of the set-top boxes that pirate Chinese content in the United States," Koonce said.

"And particularly recently was the TVpad box which streams Chinese-language programs including CCTV and TVB without their authorization, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year," he said.

Among the defendants are Hong Kong-based Create New Technology Ltd (CNT) - the main manufacturer of the device - and GreatVision Network Technology Co in Shenzhen, which "directly infringed our clients' television programs by streaming them over the Internet to customers in the US," he said.

Users can download free apps, and it allows them to access contents from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, he said.

The device sells for $309 at CNT's online store, with no monthly fees.

The set-top box, which uses the Android operating system, provides access to more than 100 Chinese TV channels, over 40 in South Korea and more than 20 in Japan. TVpad is "the best streaming media device for Chinese living overseas, the website says.

The online store also tells customers that it is "legal to use TVpad," but "the only responsibility of the company is to provide the hardware".

"Although CNT says it is selling the neutral set-top box, and an unknown third party has developed the apps that do the streaming, we alleged in the complaint that these developers either don't exist or are controlled by CNT," Koonce said.