Adding to this site’s archived judgments of lawsuits addressing UFC piracy claims, reasons for judgement were recently released by the US District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division, ordering double the cost of licencing as fair damages following commercial piracy.
In the recent case (Joe Hand Promotions Inc v. Guillory) the Defendant Rival Sports Grill, LLC was sued after showing UFC 130 without paying the required sub licence fee to the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff obtained default judgement and asked for maximum statutory damages of $10,000 and additionally enhanced damages. The Court dismissed the claim for enhanced damages but awarded statutory damages of $3,200, a sum twice the price of the sub licence fee. In finding this to be a fair assessment District Judge Hailk provided the following reasons:
Plaintiff has elected to seek statutory damages and requests the maximum amount of $10,000. In its Memorandum Supporting Default Judgment, R. 9, Plaintiff argues that it would be impossible to calculate the full extent of lost profits and additional damages suffered because of Defendant’s actions. To support its claim for damages, Plaintiff attached an affidavit from its President, Joe Hand, Jr., explaining the serious threat that this sort of conduct poses to the industry. R. 9-2. Courts have awarded various amounts of statutory damages for similar conduct. Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Plummer 2014 WL 3749148 (N.D.Miss.,2014) (awarding base statutory damages of $3,000); Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Armijo, 2014 WL 1761709 (W.D.Tex.,2014) (awarding base statutory damages of $3,600); Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Alima, 2014 WL 1632158 (N.D.Tex., 2014) (awarding base statutory damages of $5,000); Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Ashby 2014 WL 1330027 (E.D.La.,2014) (awarding statutory damages of $4,800); Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Bonvillain 2013 WL 5935208 (E.D.La.,2013) (awarding base statutory damages of $1,925). As stated by Plaintiff, one purpose of statutory damages is to deter this type of conduct. By imposing only minimal statutory damages or only requiring Defendant to pay the licensing fee he should have previously paid, Defendant would have no motivation to refrain from continuing the unauthorized conduct. In addition, this conduct harms Plaintiff’s business and decreases profits. Considering the need to deter future similar conduct and that the commercial sub-license fee alone in this case would have been $1600, the Court finds that a flat penalty of two times the license fee, or $3200, is a just amount under the circumstances, and is comparable with awards in similar cases. See Bonvillain,2013 WL 5935208, at *2 (E.D.La.,2013) (J.Africk) (finding award of approximately twice the license fee to be a “just amount under the circumstances”)…
Considering Plaintiff’s evidence, the small size of the crowd viewing the Program, and the fact that there is no evidence that Defendant, Rival, was a repeat offender, the Court…declines to award enhanced damages.