UFC 150 Piracy Leads to $14,500 Judgement

Posted: April 14, 2015 in Uncategorized
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In the latest addition to this site’s archived cases addressing Pay Per View Piracy, reasons for judgement were released this month ordering a Defendant to pay just over $14,500 in damages and costs following the commercial piracy of UFC 150.

In the recent case (Joe Hand Promotions , Inc v. KJ’s Wings and Ale, LLC) the Defendant operated a commercial establishment and displayed UFC 150 without paying the licence fee to the Plaintiff allowing them to do so.  The Plaintiff sued for damages and obtained default judgement with statutory damages of $3,750, enhanced damages of $7,500 plus costs and attorney fees for a total judgement of $14,583.75.  In reaching this assessment District Judge Michelle Childs provided the following reasons:

According to the record, Plaintiff had the exclusive nationwide commercial television distribution rights to “Ultimate Fighting Championship 150: Benson Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar” (the “Program”). (ECF No. 1 at 3.) The minimum rate charged by Plaintiff for the right to show the Program was seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00). (ECF No. 11-3.)

Plaintiff’s private investigator (“PI”) entered Scooter’s Lounge (“Scooter’s”), located 1631 JA Cochran Boulevard, Chester, SC, on August 11, 2012, at approximately 9:51 p.m. (ECF No. 11-4 at 1.) The PI did not pay a cover charge to enter the establishment. (Id.) While in Scooter’s, the PI observed five televisions displaying one of the fights on the card for the Program. (Id.) There were between seven and twelve patrons in Scooter’s during the PI’s investigation. (Id. at 3.) The PI left Scooter’s at approximately 11:40 p.m. (Id.)..

Given that there were no more than twelve patrons in the establishment during the airing of the Program, an award based upon the number of people in the establishment would not provide a sufficient deterrent from future violations by Defendants. However, the court finds that an award of five times the license fee Defendants should have paid, coupled with enhanced damages and attorneys’ fees and costs, will provide a sufficient deterrent for Defendants. Therefore, the court awards Plaintiff statutory damages in the amount of three thousand seven hundred fifty dollars ($3,750.00)…

While the court finds that Defendants’ actions were willful and intentional violations of the Federal Communications Act, the maximum statutory enhancement is not warranted in this case. Therefore, the court awards enhanced damages in the amount of seven thousand five hundred dollars ($7,500.00) to Plaintiff.

The Federal Communications Act requires the court to award “full costs, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, to an aggrieved party who prevails.” 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(B). Plaintiff is an aggrieved party, and Plaintiff has prevailed in this suit. Plaintiff has supported its request for costs and attorneys’ fees by producing bills and an affidavit detailing the costs of litigation. (ECF No. 11-6.) Plaintiff has also provided the affidavit of an independent attorney attesting to the appropriateness of Plaintiff’s attorney’s fee. (ECF No. 11-7.) The Court finds that Plaintiff has costs one thousand one hundred fifty five dollars ($1,155.00), and that Plaintiff is entitled to attorneys’ fees in the amount of two thousand one hundred seventy eight and 75/100 dollars ($2,178.75).

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