Murdoch: Media Mogul or Corporate Pirate?

Current suit isn't the first time a Murdoch company has been accused of hacking.

ByABC News
September 9, 2008, 6:49 AM

May 13, 2008— -- Today a federal jury in Los Angeles resumes deliberations in a corporate espionage lawsuit filed against a company owned by Rupert Murdoch seeking $1 billion in damages.

Two previous lawsuits alleging similar claims of corporate espionage by Murdoch's company, however, never made it to a courtroom, and a fourth is still pending. Critics say the company's business tactics extend beyond playing hardball to predatory piracy and even illegal conduct.

Two current lawsuits and two previous ones against the Murdoch-owned company, NDS, allege a similar pattern of behavior. NDS accesses the secure computer codes and trade secrets of companies and then misappropriates the technology to pirates or hackers, causing huge monetary losses to the companies, according to the plaintiffs.

NDS, which has offices in Israel and California, is currently being sued in federal court by competitor EchoStar TV. That case goes back to the jury today. [Read about the case.]

But two previous lawsuits against NDS brought by DIRECTV and Murdoch rival at-the-time Canal+ never made it to the courtroom. In the case of DIRECTV, Murdoch bought the company itself. In the case of Canal+, he made a deal that compelled the suit to be dropped.

In March 2002, Canal+ filed suit against NDS, claiming the Murdoch-owned company engaged in "cloak and dagger" operations by making counterfeit Canal+ smart cards which allowed satellite TV viewers to steal signals "on a massive scale." That suit also sought $1 billion in damages.

The suit was subsequently dropped when Murdoch bought the Italian pay-TV company, Telepiu, from Canal+'s parent company, Vivendi.

In another suit filed against Murdoch's NDS back in 2000, DIRECTV, which is now owned by Murdoch, said it hired NDS to manufacture secure smart cards, a microprocessor used by DIRECTV customers to receive satellite signals. The suit claimed that NDS then designed smart cards that "were not secure, and were easily susceptible to being hacked."