Adding to this site’s archived case summaries involving UFC PPV piracy awards, reasons for judgement were released this week by the US District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division, ordering a Defendant to pay $5,000 in damages for the commercial piracy of UFC 175.
In this week’s case (Joe Hand Promotions, Inc v. Dalal) The Defendant operated a commercial establishment which displayed UFC 175 without paying the appropriate sub-licencing fees.
The Defendant disputed liability but the Plaintiff was successful in seeking summary judgement. The Court found the appropriate measure of damages to be the cost of the program plus a further penalty of three times the cost of the program for total damages of $5,000. In reaching this figure District Judge Susan Hickey provided the following reasons:
The undisputed evidence in this case demonstrates that Dalal violated 47 U.S.C. § 605. It is undisputed that the cost to Mirage for the sublicensing agreement would have been $1,250.00. Accordingly, the Court finds that is the proper amount of statutory damages. See J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Brewster “2” Café, LLC, 2014 WL 4956501, at *5 (E.D. Ark. Oct. 2, 2014).
The facts also demonstrate that the violation was committed willfully and for the purposes of financial gain. The violation was willful because “intentional acts are required to pirate a closed-circuit broadcast; the unscrambled airwaves or cable transmission do not just happen.” J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Diaz De Leon, 2012 WL 79877, at *3 (W.D. Ark. Jan. 11, 2012) (quoting Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Cat’s Bar, Inc., 2009 WL 700125, at *3 (C.D. Ill. 2009)). This interception was also done for the purposes of commercial advantage. Mirage advertised that the Program would be shown on both its website and Facebook page, and it is undisputed that there were approximately 40-60 patrons at Mirage. See J & J Sports Prods., Inc. v. Acevedo, 2010 WL 1980849, at *3 (E.D. Ark. May 13, 2010) (citing Entertainment byJ & J, Inc. v. Al-Waha Enterprises, Inc., 219 F.Supp.2d 769, 776 (S.D. Tex. 2002)).
Because the Court has found that the violations were willful, Plaintiff is entitled to enhanced damages. The purpose of these enhanced damages is to punish violations and simultaneously deter future piracy. Brewster “2” Café, LLC, 2014 WL 4956501 at *5. Dalal would have no incentive to cease the violation if the penalty were merely the amount that he should have paid for a sublicensing agreement. See Entertainment byJ & J, Inc. v. Al-Waha Enterprises, Inc., 219 F.Supp.2d 769, 776 (S.D. Tex. 2002). In awarding enhanced damages, Courts generally award anywhere from three to six times the statutory damages award. Joe Hand Productions, Inc. v. Feil, 2013 WL 2936389 (D. Minn. June 14, 2013).
The Court finds that the appropriate amount of enhanced damages is three times the award of statutory damages, or $3,750. These damages are appropriate given that Mirage was not filled to capacity, and Plaintiff has not shown that Dalal has a history of showing pirated events. See Brewster “2” Café, LLC, 2014 WL 4956501 at *6. These damages are sufficient to punish the establishment and deter any future conduct, while not jeopardizing Defendant’s business.