(a) Every person who knowingly and willfully makes or maintains an unauthorized connection or connections, whether physically, electrically, or inductively, or purchases, possesses, attaches, causes to be attached, assists others in or maintains the attachment of any unauthorized device or devices to a television set or to other equipment designed to receive a television broadcast or transmission, or makes or maintains any modification or alteration to any device installed with the authorization of a subscription television system, for the purpose of intercepting, receiving, or using any program or other service carried by the subscription television system which the person is not authorized by that subscription television system to receive or use, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding 90 days, or by both that fine and imprisonment. For the purposes of this section, each purchase, possession, connection, attachment or modification shall constitute a separate violation of this section.
(b) Every person who, without the express authorization of a subscription television system, knowingly and willfully manufactures, imports into this state, assembles, distributes, sells, offers to sell, possesses, advertises for sale, or otherwise provides any device, any plan, or any kit for a device or for a printed circuit, designed in whole or in part to decode, descramble, intercept, or otherwise make intelligible any encoded, scrambled, or other nonstandard signal carried by that subscription television system, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail, or by both that fine and imprisonment. A second or subsequent conviction is punishable by a fine not exceeding twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
(c) Any person who violates the provisions of subdivision (a) shall be liable to the subscription television system for civil damages in the amount of the value of the connection and subscription fees service actually charged by the subscription television system for the period of unauthorized use according to proof.
Any person who violates the provisions of subdivision (b) shall be liable to the subscription television system at the election of the subscription television system for either of the following amounts:
(1) An award of statutory damages in an aggregate amount of not less than five hundred dollars ($500) or more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), as the court deems just, for each device, plan, or kit for a device, or for a printed circuit manufactured, imported, assembled, sold, offered for sale, possessed, advertised for sale, or otherwise provided in violation of subdivision (b), to be awarded instead of actual damages and profits.
(2) Three times the amount of actual damages sustained by the plaintiff as a result of the violation or violations of this section and any revenues which have been obtained by the defendant as a result of the violation or violations, or an amount equal to three times the value of the services unlawfully obtained, or the sum of five hundred dollars ($500) for each unauthorized device manufactured, sold, used, or distributed, whichever is greater, and, when appropriate, punitive damages. For the purposes of this subdivision, revenues which have been obtained by the defendant as a result of a violation or violations of this section shall not be included in computing actual damages.
In a case where the court finds that any activity set forth in subdivision (b) was committed knowingly and willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain, the court in its discretion may increase the award of damages, whether actual or statutory, by an amount of not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000). It shall not constitute a use for “commercial advantage or private financial gain” for any person to receive a subscription television signal within a residential unit as defined herein.
(d) In any civil action filed pursuant to this section, the court shall allow the recovery of full costs plus an award of reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party.
(e) Any subscription television system may, in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 525) of Title 7 of Part 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure, bring an action to enjoin and restrain any violation of this section without having to make a showing of special or irreparable damage, and may in the same action seek damages as provided in subdivision (c). Upon the execution of a proper bond against damages for an injunction improvidently granted, a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction may be issued in any action before a final determination on the merits.
(f) It is not necessary that the plaintiff have incurred actual damages, or be threatened with incurring actual damages, as a prerequisite to bringing an action pursuant to this section.
(g) For the purposes of this section, an encoded, scrambled, or other nonstandard signal shall include, without limitation, any type of distorted signal or transmission that is not intended to produce an intelligible program or service without the use of special devices or information provided by the sender for the receipt of this type of signal or transmission.
(h) (1) For the purposes of this section, a “subscription television system” means a television system which sends an encoded, scrambled, or other nonstandard signal over the air which is not intended to be received in an intelligible form without special equipment provided by or authorized by the sender.
(2) For purposes of this section, “residential unit” is defined as any single-family residence, mobilehome within a mobilehome park, condominium, unit or an apartment or multiple-housing unit leased or rented for residential purposes.
(Amended by Stats. 2001, Ch. 854, Sec. 32. Effective January 1, 2002.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018