On May 2, 2014, in J&J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Mandell Family Ventures, LLC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned the lower court’s decision and held that section 605 of the Communications Act of 1934 does not apply to the unauthorized reception of cable wire transmissions originating as radio communications. The Fifth Circuit joined the Seventh and Third Circuits in maintaining that section 553 of the Communications Act of 1934 exclusively regulates this unauthorized reception after analyzing the legislative history and congressional intent behind the federal regulation. The Second Circuit, alternatively, has ruled that section 605 does regulate such transmissions. This Comment argues that the Fifth Circuit’s interpretation of the Communications Act of 1934 is correct. To rule otherwise would unreasonably impose the obligation on customers to take the additional step to verify that their cable provider has a license to provide the cable program. Furthermore, to apply section 605 would irrationally limit section 553 to only the regulation of local cable providers.
Brian Fleming, “Wire” Circuit Courts Split on Cable Piracy: The Fifth Circuit Examines Federal Telecommunications Law in J&J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Mandell Family Ventures, 56 B.C.L. Rev. E. Supp. 18 (2015), https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol56/iss6/3