In the latest UFC Pay Per View prosecution to reach judgement following alleged event piracy by a commercial establishment, $18,900 in damages plus attorney’s fees were awarded by the US District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division.
In this month’s case (Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Dadson) the Defendant was sued after displaying UFC 124 in their establishment without first paying the commercial sub licence fees to the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff sued and obtained default judgement. In finding total damages of $18,900 were appropriate District Judge Gray Miller provided the following reasons:
…To establish liability, plaintiff need only show that 1) the Event was exhibited in defendants’ establishment and 2) plaintiff did not authorize the particular exhibition of the Event. Id. Plaintiff’s pleadings establish both of these elements. Dkt. 1 at 2-3.
47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(C)(i)(II) allows courts to award statutory damages to a plaintiff in an anti-piracy case of at least $1,000 and no more than $10,000, as the court considers just; § 605(e)(3)(C)(ii) allows courts to award additional damages for willful behavior up to $100,000; § 605(e)(3)(B)(iii) mandates that courts award reasonable attorneys’ fees and full costs to the party who prevails; and § 605(e)(3)(B)(i) allows courts to grant reasonable temporary and final injunctions to prevent or restrain violations of the law. Plaintiff has requested an award of statutory damages against each in the amount of $10,000; additional damages in the amount of $50,000; attorneys’ fees equal to one third of the recovery or $1,500; pre- and post-judgment interest; and a permanent injunction enjoining any future exhibition of unauthorized or unlicensed programs in violation of § 605. Dkt. 11 at 11.
Plaintiff is entitled to recover the following awards against defendants, jointly and severally, plus post-judgment interest at the rate of .11 percent annually from the date of this judgment until it is paid. Pre-judgment interest will not be paid. The court finds that $5,000 is appropriate to compensate for the violation of § 605. Plaintiff has produced evidence that the Gold Coast Lounge could hold approximately 100 people. Dkt. 1, Ex. A at 30-31. Plaintiff could have charged an establishment of this size $1,100 to exhibit the Event. Dkt. 1, Ex. A at 33. An additional $3,900 is reasonable for statutory damages to deter future violations. Further, $10,000 will be awarded for defendants’ willful actions. Attorneys’ fees will be awarded in the amount of $1,500, because the court finds that six hours of work at a blended rate of $250 per hour is reasonable. Dkt. 11, Ex. B at 6. Finally, the court finds that plaintiff’s request for an injunction pursuant to § 605(e)(3)(B)(i) is reasonable to “prevent or restrain violations” of §605(a) and grants it.