DirecTV suits up vs. pirates

19 Canadians, five businesses targeted

TORONTO — DirecTV has launched a $16.2 million lawsuit against alleged satellite pirates in Canada following a raid at nine locations that uncovered what the company deemed “extensive fraud.”

A lawsuit was filed Friday in the Ontario Superior Court against 19 Canadians and five businesses alleged to be illegally selling DirecTV satellite signals. The suit follows a six-month probe by the company.

The defendants are mostly from mid-sized Southern Ontario towns such as Kitchener and Waterloo. The suit claims that some have “a long history of pirate activity and several have been charged criminally in other signal theft cases.”

The company released a new generation of access cards in June, since which time, it alleges, pirates have been forced to use bogus U.S. mailing addresses to get DirecTV accounts, which are sold to Canadians without DirecTV’s knowledge. DirecTV is not licensed to transmit and does not hold copyrights for Canadian customers to receive its signals north of the border.

The company is asking for damages of $8.1 million and punitive damages of another $8.1 million.

“This is a very aggressive program to eliminate fraud, both in the States and in Canada,” said DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer, “and we expect more of these cases to come.”

The company recently filed a lawsuit in the U.S. against seven people in Florida who it says created false subscriptions and illegally activated hundreds of access cards and receivers.

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