Last year, American satellite and broadcast provider Dish Network targeted two well-known players in the third-party Kodi add-on ecosystem.
In a complaint filed in a federal court in Texas, add-on ZemTV and the TVAddons library were accused of copyright infringement. As a result, both are facing up to $150,000 in damages for each offense.
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The owner and operator of TVAddons, Adam Lackman, and ZemTV developer, Shahjahan Durrani, previously asked the court to dismiss the case, because neither reside in the United States.
The request was recently denied and the case continues. This means that the defendants must respond to the allegations at the Texas District Court. Yesterday, TVAddons’ lawyer Jason Sweet submitted the answers of defendant Adam Lackman, who denies many of the claims put forward by Dish.
TVAddons’ operator denies that he had the “ability to supervise and control” the alleged infringing activity of ZemTV, as Dish stated, and also refutes the claims that he received a “direct financial benefit” and “refused to take any action” to stop the infringement.
Lackman does confirm that ZemTV was available for download through TVAddons and that Dish sent a takedown notice to have it removed. TVAddons received this notice and forwarded it to the developer of the addon.
The answers are very minimal and mostly deny the complaint’s claims. However, the filing also includes several affirmative defenses, which provide some more insight and detail.
In the complaint, TVAddons’ operator stands accused of “contributory / inducing copyright infringement,” but his lawyer points out that these are two different claims with separate thresholds which can’t be combined.
One requires knowledge of and a material contribution to the infringement, for example, while the other deals with the distribution of a device or product through which the infringing use is promoted.
“Contributory infringement and inducing infringement are two distinct causes of action and cannot be combined when pled. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10(b) requires separate counts for separate claims,” Sweet writes.
And there are other points of confusion highlighted by the defense. Dish has stated that the copyrighted works at issue have not been registered, as that is no longer required to file a lawsuit under the Copyright Act.
While that is correct, TVAddons’ lawyer points out that it prevents Dish from seeking statutory damages and attorneys fees or costs, because that does require copyright registration.
“Plaintiff is not entitled to statutory damages, including attorney’s fees and costs because registration is required for foreign works to gain the procedural benefits of a prima facie presumption of the validity of a copyright, statutory damages, and attorney’s fees..,” the defense writes.
Adding to that, TVAddons’ operator denies that he engaged in or contributed to any of the alleged infringements. And if there was any wrongdoing, this was certainly not intended.
“Defendant was not aware and had no reason to believe that any of his acts constituted an infringement of copyright. Any infringement by Defendant was innocent and not willful.”
The response is just the start of the case and both sides are expected to conduct further discovery to back up their respective positions. ZemTV’s operator, whose alleged infringements are central to the TVAddons case, has yet to file his answers.
TVAddons, meanwhile, remains operational through TVAddons.co with a reduced library of addons. After it was decimated last year, the site has started to regain its user base, in the hope that they will support the legal battle.
“If you are tired of seeing big companies act like they own the law, please consider making a donation to help us pay our lawyers. This lawsuit is about more than just us, it’s about the expansion of copyright law and a big bad corporation trying to bully us into submission,” TVAddons wrote last week.
A copy of TVAddons answer to the amended complaint is available here (pdf).