Piracy of UFC 119 Leads to $4,800 Damage Assessment

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 119.

In the recent case (Joe Hand Promotions, Inc v. Tickle) the Defendant operated a small restaurant and pub which displayed UFC 119 without paying the commercial sublicencing fee which would have been $900.

The Plaintiff obtained default judgement and initially was seeking damages “in excess of $170,000” but later amended this request to $23,000 with the court commenting that requests such as the initial one were “so grossly disproportionate to the alleged wrong and underlying circumstances that it has the effect of completely undercutting the credence of the plaintiff’s arguments.”

The Court ultimately awarded the Plaintiff $1,200 in statutory damages and a further $3,600 in enhanced damages.  In finding these figures to be reasonable District Judge Matthew Brann provided the following reasons:

Where such a discretionary exercise is involved, the Court finds it reasonable to hue closely to the methodology employed by federal courts in this and neighboring districts within the Third Circuit’s venire. Thus, the Court will follow the profit approximation approach set forth in Yakubets. Specifically, the Court will award a reasonable profit margin to Plaintiff based upon an estimated revenue figure, the number of patrons recorded in Defendant’s establishment during the night in question, and the assumption that one-half (50%) of the patrons would have purchased menu items.

“[G]iven Joe Hand’s inability to take discovery, the Court will assume that (a) half of the individuals present came solely because of the show and (b) each spent $20 on food and drink, . . . and, further, that (c) the remaining half each spent $10 more than they otherwise would have because they stayed longer to watch the Match.”[47]“These are generous allowances given the lack of evidence; their foundation on revenue rather than profit; and the fact that without evidence of damages, courts often award only the sublicense fee from the rate card.”[48]

Applied to the instant case, there were 20 patrons in Defendant’s establishment on the night in question. Assuming that half of the individuals (10) came solely because of the show and that half spent $20 on food on drink, with the remaining half (10) spending $10 on food and drink, Plaintiff here is entitled to in an increase in statutory damages in the amount of $300.[49] Thus, Plaintiff is awarded $1,200 in statutory damages.[50]

There was no evidence presented in the Complaint or during the Court’s default judgment hearing to suggest that Defendant’s act of piracy was a minor first offense that has not recurred since the date in question. No evidence was presented suggesting that Defendant’s establishment consistently engaged in the type of piracy at issue or that the conduct of its officers on the night in question was in any way representative of the establishment’s usual protocol. That being said, the Court appreciates the arguments as to the need for deterrence and the detrimental effects of such piracy made on behalf of Plaintiff during the Court’s default judgment hearing. Accordingly, weighing all of these considerations, the Court decides that a multiplier of three is appropriate and no more excessive than necessary to ascertain the requisite levels of general and specific deterrence. The Plaintiff is therefore awarded $3,600 in enhanced damages under § 553(c)(3)(B), for a total of $4,800 in statutory and enhanced damages.[66]

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