Court Orders $18,950 in Damages/Fees After UFC 158 Piracy

Reasons for judgement were published last week by the US District Court, ND, Ohio, Eastern Division ordering a Defendant to pay a total of $18,950 in damages and attorney’s fees following the commercial piracy of UFC 158.

In the recent case (Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Pickett) the Defendant operated a commercial establishment that, over the years, ordered at least 28 UFC Pay Per View programs.  The Defendant displayed UFC 158 without paying the commercial sub licencing fees and were sued for damages.

The Defendant admitted wrongdoing with the trial focusing on the appropriate damages.

Joe Hand was seeking $50,000 in statutory damages with the Defendant seeking the Court to award less.  Ultimately Magistrate Judge Kathleen Burke found that the Defendants should pay $3,750 in statutory damages (the cost of ordering the event), $7,500 in enhanced damages to punish the willful piracy and a further $7,700 in fees and costs.

In assessing these damages the Court provided the following reasons:

As stated above, in determining statutory damages, this Court may consider and may award “an amount equal to the license fee Defendants would have paid if [they] had legally purchased the right to exhibit the Program.” Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. McBroom, No. 5:09cv-276(CAR), 2009 WL 5031580, at *4 (M.D.Ga. Dec. 15, 2009). Defendants’ argument requires the Court to assume that Defendants would have paid an incorrect price of $1,600.00 for the Program simply because they had paid that incorrect price in the past for other programs. This Court will not speculate or assume that Defendants would have paid a concededly incorrect amount for the Program on March 16, 2013, had they legally purchased it. Rather, the Court finds that, based on the rate card provided by Joe Hand, an establishment with a capacity of 475 would have paid $3,750 for the Program. Doc. 37-1. See e.g., J & J Sports Prods., Inc., v. Zambrano, No. 4:14-cv-960, 2015 WL 3682588, at *5 (N.D. Ohio June 12, 2015) (calculating statutory damages based on the maximum capacity of the restaurant, as provided on the rate card); McBroom, 2009 WL 5031580, at *6(same); Arboleda, 2009 WL 3490859, at *7 (same). Joe Hand has not provided evidence regarding the costs it incurred in investigating Barley House’s showing of the Program on March 16, 2013. Accordingly, the Court awards Joe Hand statutory damages in the amount of $3,750.00…

In summary, the evidence shows that Defendants are first time violators and they did not charge a cover or advertise. However, the restaurant was full and may have experienced some increased business from the display of the Program. Also, the Program was being displayed on multiple televisions throughout the establishment that night. Additionally, Defendants were aware of what they needed to do to sub-license programs since they had done so many times in the past. Doc. 37-1, pp. 5-6, ¶ 19; Doc. 40, p. 3, ¶ 3.

Based on the foregoing, the Court finds that Defendants conduct was willful and that enhanced damages are warranted. However, the Court finds that Defendants’ conduct was not so egregious as to warrant an award of $40,000.00 as sought by Joe Hand, which amounts to more than 10 times the amount of the licensing fee for the Program. The Court finds that enhanced damages in the amount of $7,500.00, which is double the amount of statutory damages, is appropriate under the circumstances.

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