In a ruling (PDF) issued yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling and concluded that reconfiguring a DirecTV access card in order to decrypt a satellite signal without paying for subscription does not constitute “assembly” or “modification” of satellite signal interception equipment.
Federal law prohibits production of satellite piracy devices and imposes strict penalties, which are spelled out in section 605(e)(4) of the Federal Communications Act. According to the Act, “Any person who manufactures, assembles, modifies, imports, exports, sells, or distributes any electronic, mechanical, or other device or equipment, knowing or having reason to know that the device or equipment is primarily of assistance in the unauthorized decryption of satellite cable programming,” faces fines of up to $500,000 and up to five years in prison for each violation.
The law also separately establishes fines of up to $2,000 and six months in prison for interception, and fines up to $50,000 and two years in prison for intercepting satellite signals for private financial gain, as described in 605(a).
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