court finds against unauthorized TV decoders

Reversing a lower court ruling, an appeals court sided with the subscription television industry in its war on air pirates selling decoder devices to unscramble pay TV signals.

Chartwell Communications Group, which operates subscription television in the Detroit area, attempted to sue two men selling bootleg decoder devices. Without decoder devices, the signals broadcast to subscribers appear scrambled and are unaudible. For a monthly fee, Chartwell leases its own decoders to subscribers.

The judges ruled that subscription television was protected against unauthorized reception by the Communications Act, that the bootleg decoder devices violated the statute, and that Chartwell had a right to take legal action against the sellers.

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