UFC Piracy $110,000 Request Rejected;$4,594 Awarded

Reasons for judgement were released this month by the US District Court, ED Michigan, Southern Division, rejecting a request for $110,000 in damages following the commercial piracy of UFC 168 and instead awarding just over $4,500 in damages and costs.

In the recent case (Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. M & J Ballpark Inc.) the Defendant operated a bar and displayed UFC 168 without purchasing a commercial sub licencing licence from the Plaintiff.  The Plaintiff sued and obtained default judgement seeking $110,000 in damages.

The Court rejected this request and instead assessed damages at $750 (the cost of the commercial sub licence) then tripled this amount as ‘enhanced’ damages.  In finding this to be a fair assessment of damages District Judge Mark Goldsmith provided the following reasons:

Here, Joe Hand submitted evidence showing that Defendants should have paid $750 to show the Program. See Rate Card, Ex. 9 to Pl. Mot. Joe Hand does not indicate the rate that its auditor, who visited the location and witnessed the statutory violations at issue, charged for her services. Therefore, statutory damages are in the amount of $750…

Having concluded that Defendants willfully violated § 605 and that `enhanced’ damages are available, the Court determines that a just award requires trebling the amount of statutory damages, for a total of $2,250, inclusive of both statutory and `enhanced’ damages. See Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. The Happy Hour Tavern, LLC, et al., No. 14-cv-11693, Dkt. 15 (E.D. Mich.) (trebling damages); Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. McBroom, No. 5:09-cv-276(CAR), 2009 WL 5031580, at *6 (M.D. Ga. Dec. 15, 2009) (same).

Finally, under § 605(e)(3)(B)(iii), the Court “shall direct the recovery of full costs, including awarding reasonable attorneys’ fees to an aggrieved party who prevails.” Joe Hand submitted its attorneys’ invoice, billing his client for 9 hours. See Invoice, Ex. 10 to Pl. Mot. (Dkt. 14-10). These hours were billed at hourly rate of $210 — a rate customarily charged in the region. See Ex. 11 to Pl. Mot. (Dkt. 14-11) (State Bar of Michigan Billing Rate Summary Report). The Court deems this amount reasonable. See Potopsky, 2011 WL 2648610, at *4 (6 hours reasonable). Finally, the costs incurred by Joe Hand’s counsel seem no more than necessary. See Ex. 10 to Def. Mot. (filing fee of $400; postage and delivery costs of $54.32). Thus, pursuant to § 605(e)(3)(B)(iii), Joe Hand’s request for fees and costs in the amount of $2,344.32 is granted.

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