Dish Network loses hacking lawsuit against News Corp’s NDS

The California jury overturned DISH Network’s claim that News Corporation’s NDS subsidiary had hired hackers to crack broadcast satellite service’s encryption and helped pirate its programming.

The court ruled that NDS subsidiary should only pay Dish $1,500 for one incident of testing the Englewood-based satellite broadcaster's encryption cards.

The lawsuit was filed by Echostar accusing NDS for piracy and copyright infringement of the Echostar Viewing card codes and for aiding the distribution and supply of pirate Echostar viewing cards for the Echostar owned Dish TV. On March 2008 some of the evidence has reappeared in the Echostar documents.

NDS was in the past accused of breaking other companies' satellite encryption schemes, and was involved in a lawsuit brought by Canal Plus. The lawsuit, filed on July 25, 2003 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, alleged that NDS spent huge sums to break Canal Plus's conditional access technology and published the code on the internet which allowed fraudsters to manufacture counterfeit smart cards. The company filed an amended complaint on October 9; however, this was dismissed.

The Guardian, an independent UK broadsheet newspaper, broke the story with accusations that the NDS laboratory in Haifa, Israel had been working on breaking the SECA produced MediaGuard smartcards used by Canal+, ITV Digital and other non-Murdoch owned TV companies throughout Europe. In the front-page story, the Guardian accused NDS of deliberately extracting the UserROM code from the MediaGuard cards and then leaking it onto the internet. The theory was lent credibility by the fact that extraction of the code from the cards would have required extremely specialized knowledge and expensive equipment - specifically, a scanning electron microscope. SEMs are tracked and controlled, and thus obtaining them without leaving a paper trail is difficult.