Minimum Statutory Damages Awarded After UFC 155 Piracy

Posted: August 26, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Update January 31, 2015 – this week the Court dismissed a Plaintiff motion to alter the below judgement.  The Plaintiff argued that there was a convention that ‘five figure judgements’ were appropriate in piracy cases.  The Court disagreed noting that absent evidence of ‘anything extraordinary’ the more modest judgement was appropriate.  The reasons can be found here.

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In my continued efforts documenting prosecutions following alleged Pay Per View piracy, reasons for judgement were released this week by the United States District Court, N.D. California, assessing damages following piracy of UFC 155.

In today’s case (Joe Hand Promotions Inc v. Munoz) the Defendant aired UFC 155 without purchasing a commercial sub licence from the Plaintiff.  The Plaintiff sued and obtained default judgement.  The Plaintiff asked for maximum statutory damages but the Court instead awarded the minimum plus modest enhanced damages and damages for conversion.  In finding the evidence only supported a minimum award the Court provided the following comments:

Plaintiff states that Defendant violated Section 605, but fails to state the actual means of signal transmission used, which is necessary to determine whether Plaintiff has sufficiently stated a claim pursuant to Section 605. Here, Plaintiff’s investigator was unable to determine the exact means used by Defendant to intercept the Event, and Plaintiff provided no additional information on this subject beyond Tate’s indefinite affidavit.

In that regard, the Court awards Plaintiff $1,000 in statutory damages. This amount is appropriate because, as noted, Plaintiff did not develop sufficient facts to justify any increase from the minimum award allowed under the statute. As in other cases filed in this district, Plaintiff’s investigator failed to determine the means used to intercept the Event. Such a presentation — the result of a fifteen-minute investigation — certainly cannot support the maximum award requested by Plaintiff, or anything more than the minimum amount provided by the statute.

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