Within months of the 1994 launch of DirecTV's national TV service the broadcast satellite network was hacked. The company's first-generation smart card-based security could subsequently be modified or replaced by individuals desiring to erase records of pay-per-view purchases or enable the unlawful interception of unsubscribed channels.

Over the next decade, DirecTV fought piracy by periodically upgrading its security over the air and replacing smart cards.  They also worked with law enforcement to shut down websites that sold piracy-related electronics and software. But each success by DirecTV prompted a counterattack by the hacking community. As well, several new websites were launched for each that was shutdown.

Embedded Software Experts

Testifying Experts

In 2002, DirecTV made a decision to focus on reducing the demand for piracy. Specifically, the satellite TV operator combined customer records from piracy websites with other evidence (e.g., suspicious subscriber patterns) to file civil suits against thousands of alleged pirates in U.S. District Court. In total, more than 25,000 individual defendants were named.

DirecTV retained a team of computer security experts led by Barr Group co-founder Michael Barr to provide expert analysis of numerous embedded systems suspected of being designed for use in DirecTV piracy. Barr Group's team engaged in a thorough reverse engineering and device testing effort covering more than 130 electronic and software products alleged to be for use in satellite TV piracy. 

This resulted in a set of over one hundred expert reports about electronics and software. After a careful and neutral assessment of each set of available facts, Barr Group's lead testifying experts concluded that many, though notably not all, of the accused products were primarily designed for use in satellite TV piracy or solely useful for that purpose.

Litigation Outcomes

Barr Group's expert reports were submitted in thousands of end user piracy lawsuits in U.S. District Court. Additionally, Barr Group experts provided testimony in the form of affidavits, depositions, and appearances at hearings and trials. Barr Group's carefully researched, independent-minded expert reports and opinions were never successfully challenged by opposing experts or attorneys.

Learn more about Barr Group's expert witness services.