Adding to this site’s archived cases of UFC pay per view event piracy prosecutions, reasons for judgement were released this month assessing damages at $4,800 for the commercial piracy of UFC 169.
In the recent case (Joe Hand Promotions, Inc v. Lawhon) the Defendant displayed UFC 169 at a bar without paying the commercial sub licencing fee. The Plaintiff sued and obtained default judgement.
In finding that damages at $100 per patron present at the time of the event and then tripling this figure for deterrent purposes was appropriate, Senior District Judge Carlton Tilley Jr. provided the following reasons:
Mr. Aguilar’s three head counts of ten, fifteen, and seven “people” in the establishment at each particular time are also problematic because they may include the two bartenders who would not be patrons, as well as himself. Taking that into account, the Court calculates statutory damages based on twelve patrons (fifteen “people” minus the two bartenders and Mr. Aguilar) at a rate of $100, which is appropriate in this case considering the range of rates used in other cases, for damages in the amount of $1,200. See Brutti’s, LLC, 2014 WL 7363823, at *7, *7 n. 4 (noting that the accepted per person rate in the Eastern District of Virginia is $100 and citing J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. El Tropicabana, No. 3:12CV800, 2013 WL 3270563, at *3 (E.D. Va. June 26, 2013) as providing the range of rates elsewhere).
Because “signals do not descramble spontaneously, nor do television sets connect themselves to cable distribution systems,” Joe Hand is also entitled to enhanced statutory damages because of Defendant’s willful violation of the law. Tropicabana, 2013 WL 3270563, at *3 (finding that the defendant acted willfully and citing Time Warner Cable v. Googies Luncheonette, 77 F. Supp. 2d 485, 490 (S.D.N.Y. 1999)); see also Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Thurston, 469 U.S. 111, 127, 105 S. Ct. 613, 624 (1985) (recognizing willfulness in a civil case as “a disregard for the governing statute and an indifference to its requirements”); [Joe Hand, Jr. Aff. ¶ 9, Doc. #13-1]. Other than Defendant’s willful conduct, Joe Hand has neither alleged nor provided evidence of any other aggravating factor. See J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Centro Celvesera La Zaona, LLC, No. 5:11-CV-00069-BR, 2011 WL 5191576, at *2 (E.D.N.C. Nov. 1, 2011) (providing factors for determining enhanced damages). In accordance, to deter Lawhon from future violations, Joe Hand is awarded $3,600 in enhanced damages, an amount that is treble the awarded statutory damages. See, e.g., Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Upstate Recreation, No. 6:13-2467-TMC, 2015 WL 685461, at *9 (D.S.C. Feb. 18, 2015) (awarding as enhanced damages 2.5 times the statutory damages and citing cases awarding three times and two times the statutory awards); J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Romenski, 845 F. Supp. 2d 703, 708 (W.D.N.C. 2012) (awarding total damages equal to treble the sublicense fee).