St. Mary's Law Journal


Kevin W. Grillo


The FCC and Congress have failed to enact specific regulations regarding unauthorized interception of cable television. This lack of regulation concerning electronic piracy has allowed entrepreneurs to develop means of intercepting cable television signals without compensation to the transmitting companies. The cable television industry has lost a significant portion of income through unauthorized interception of cable television. As the cable television industry continues to expand, the problem of electronic piracy of cable television signals will intensify. This has forced the cable television industry to seek varied legal solutions to resolve the problem. Although the cable television industry has found effective solutions to prevent unauthorized interception, a uniform relief of electronic piracy requires a national solution. An effective national solution to unauthorized interception of cable television is an amendment to the Communications Act of 1934. An amendment defining illegal interception of cable television and excluding cable television from “broadcasting for the general public” would clarify issues courts must grapple with in each case. This amendment would prevent unauthorized interception from becoming widespread in areas that have not dealt with the problem judicially or by statute. Moreover, due to the national character of many of the cable television companies, a federal statute would provide uniform relief in federal court. Such a statute should also provide for civil liabilities for manufacturing and selling of unauthorized interception devices to eliminate mass production of such devices. The federal statute should also provide for issuance of a preliminary injunction on a prima facie showing of violation of the statute. Relaxed requirements for obtaining an injunction and explicit, substantial civil and criminal liability will serve as an invaluable aid to curtailing the economic loss caused by electronic piracy.


St. Mary's University School of Law