Canal Plus / NDS case takes dramatic turn

NDS employee claims company ordered publication of Canal Plus codes on the Internet.

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By  Marcus Webb Published  April 14, 2002

The legal dispute between Canal Plus and NDS took a dramatic turn yesterday. The French company, which alleges that secret information about its smart-card technologies was disseminated by NDS to hackers across the Internet, has had their claim supported by an NDS employee.

Software security consultant Oliver Kommerling, an employee of NDS-owned ADSR, said yesterday in a written deposition to the California court handling the case that Chris Tarnovsky, an NDS employee, arranged for the Canal Plus codes to be published on a fraudster's website.

NDS, which is 80 per cent owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, had previously dismissed the Canal Plus claim as "baseless" and maintains that it was in no way involved in the piracy of smart cards, used to enable Vivendi and ITV Digital pay-TV services. Should Kommerling's allegations prove to be true, NDS's case will collapse and it will be forced to pay out hundreds of millions of pounds to both Canal Plus and debt-laden ITV Digital, which claims to have lost £100m as a result of the piracy.

Canal Plus has also appealed to the courts to hear the case as soon as possible, as it is worried NDS could destroy vital documents relating to the case. The courts will decide on whether the process should be speeded up at a preliminary hearing on 18 April.

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