Convicted for Digital Millennium Copyright Act and Mail Fraud
21 November – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California announced that Walter J. Buchholz, Jr., 67, of Amherst, New York was sentenced to a term of eighteen months and three years supervised release and a $200 mandatory special assessment. The defendant was also ordered to pay $308,000 restitution to Dish Network. Buchholz was previously convicted for one count of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and one count of mail fraud for his role in a satellite piracy scheme, including manufacturing and distributing software and devices which were used to steal satellite programming from DISH Network
On September 29, 2004, defendant Buchholz was indicted by a federal grand jury in San Jose, California, on two counts, including the Unauthorized Manufacture and Distribution of Satellite Television Access Devices, and Manufacture and Distribution of Technology Primarily Designed to Circumvent Encryption Technology Protecting a Right of a Copyright Owner (DMCA). The DMCA, enacted in 1998, enforced intellectual property laws by focusing on conduct to circumvent technological measures protecting copyrighted works. On June 10, 2005, a one-count Information was filed in the Western District of New York charging defendant Buchholz with mail fraud for his role in the satellite piracy scheme in that district. After the indictment in San Jose, the defendant elected to plead guilty in the Western District of New York in a Rule 20 proceeding resolving charges in both districts.
According to court documents, DISH Network uses a direct broadcast satellite system to deliver its programming to homes and businesses that are equipped with specialized equipment, including a satellite receiver box. DISH Network electronically “scrambles” its satellite transmissions in order to prevent unauthorized viewing of their programming. In order to receive the programming services, DISH Network customers are required to purchase or lease satellite equipment, which includes Smart Cards, which are inserted into the satellite receiver. In violating the DMCA, defendant Buchholz reprogrammed Smart Cards to circumvent the technological measures which limited access to legitimate subscribers of DISH Network satellite signal programming. Defendant Buchholz sold the reprogrammed Smart Cards to others around the United States, and used the mails in doing so. The plea agreement noted that as a result of the scheme, defendant Buchholz unlawfully received approximately $308,000.
Defendant Buchholz was sentenced before United States District Judge John T. Elfvin in Buffalo, New York, after he requested the charges filed in San Jose and Buffalo be considered in Buffalo.
The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cyber Crime Squad in San Jose and Buffalo. In the Northern District of California, the investigation was overseen by the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Unit of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California. Mark L. Krotoski is the Assistant U.S. Attorney from the CHIP Unit who is prosecuting the case in San Jose, and Paul J. Campana, Chief, White Collar & General Crimes Division in Buffalo.