Jury convicts DirecTV pirate on DMCA charges

Unlawful decryption device

A US jury this week convicted a Florida man for selling illegal cable TV descrambling hardware. This is the first jury conviction under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Thomas Michael Whitehead, 38, of Boca Raton, Florida, was found guilty of three counts of violating the DMCA. His role in selling hardware used to pirate DirecTV broadcasts also earned a conviction on two counts of selling unlawful decryption device and one count of conspiracy.

Whitehead faces up to 30 years in jail and fines of up to $2.75 million when he returns for sentencing before US District Judge Christina Snyder on January 26, NBC reports.

The jury accepted the prosecution case that Whitehead paid crackers $250 to month help him stay ahead of security measures introduced by DirecTV in creating counterfeit cards used to access its services. Creating devices that circumvent copyright protection measures is a violation of the DMCA.

Whitehead was charged earlier this year at the conclusion of an undercover FBI investigation, called Operation Decrypt, into cable TV piracy.

Prior to Whitehead's conviction, a number of people also arrested in Operation Decrypt pleaded guilty to various offences, including violations of the DMCA. ®

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