$37,757 In Damages Ordered After Commercial Piracy of UFC 135

Adding to this site’s archived judgments of lawsuits addressing UFC piracy claims, reasons for judgement were released this month by the US District Court, D. South Carolina, ordering a commercial establishment to pay $37,757 following piracy of UFC 135.

In the recent case (Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Upstate Recreation) the Defendants operated a Nightlclub.  They displayed UFC 135 but did not purchase the commercial sub-licencing rights from the Plaintiff to do so.  The Plaintiff sued and obtained default judgement.  The nightclub had a maximum occupancy of 300 people and based on this the sublicencing fee would have been $2,250.  The evidence established that the most people present during the bouts was eighteen.

In awarding $10,000 in statutory damages, $25,000 in enhanced damages and attorney fees and costs Magistrate Judge Jacquelyn Austin made the below recommendations which District Judge Timothy Cain accepted

In line with awards recommended and/or awarded in this District for similar violations, the undersigned recommends a statutory damages award of $10,000. See Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Rascals Café, LLC, C/A No. 4:11-2135-TWL-KDW, 2012 WL 4762142, at *5 (Aug. 31, 2012), Report and Recommendation adopted by 2012 WL 4762452 (D.S.C. Oct. 5, 2012) (awarding five times the license fee); Todd, 2012 WL 2178851 (awarding approximately five times the license fee). Here, the maximum statutory award is less than five times the license fee Defendants should have paid to legally broadcast the Program…

Here, in addition to the admissions based on Upstate Recreation’s default and Ruegsegger’s failure to respond to Plaintiff’s Requests for Admissions, Plaintiff’s President avers that the Program could not have been “mistakenly, innocently, or accidentally intercepted.” [Doc. 37-6 ¶ 9.] Further, Southern paid a cover charge of $25 to enter Leeg’s Nightclub. [Doc. 37-4 at 1.] Although the Court finds that Defendants’ violations were willful and that more than nominal damages should be awarded to deter future violations, the Court does not conclude that the maximum enhancement is appropriate in this case. As such, the undersigned recommends an enhanced damages award of $25,000, or twoand-one-half times the statutory award, in line with awards recommended and/or awarded in this District for similar violations.See Rascals Café, LLC, 2012 WL 4762142, at *5 (awarding three times the statutory award); Todd, 2012 WL 2178851 (awarding two times the statutory award).

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