In the latest UFC piracy prosecution, a default judgement request of $60,000 was rejected and the Court assessed damages at $8,242.
In the recent case (Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Meunier) the Defendant displayed UFC 173 at a commercial establishment without paying the commercial sub-licencing fee to the Plaintiff. The fee would have been $1,600.
Some 50 patrons were present at the time. The Plaintiff sued asking for $60,000 in statutory and enhanced damages. The US District Court, N.D. New York rejected this request as disproportionate. Instead the court awarded statutory damages of $2,747.50. The Court arrived at this figure by taking the number of patrons and multiplying that number by the cost each of them would have paid to individually order the program on a residential basis. The Court then took this figure and doubled it as enhanced damages. In finding this was a fair disposition District Judge Lawrence Kahn provided the following reasons:
…courts in this circuit rarely grant the maximum allowable damages…Instead, several courts have used the following formula for calculating damages: they multiply the number of patrons who viewed the event by $54.95, which has been used as the estimated residential fee for a pay-per-view broadcast… As Plaintiff alleges that at least fifty patrons were present for UFC 173… the Court multiplies that number by $54.95 to calculate statutory damages, which amount to $2,747.50. This amount is sufficient to compensate Plaintiff for its lost revenue—Plaintiff would have charged Defendant $1,600 to purchase and display UFC 173 for its patrons…and it is in line with the statutory damages that other courts have awarded under similar circumstances…
In order to determine the proper amount of enhanced damages in such cases, courts generally consider the following factors: “allegations of: (1) repeated violations over an extended period of time; (2) substantial unlawful monetary gains; (3) significant actual damages to plaintiff; (4) defendant’s advertising for the intended broadcast of the event; and (5) defendant’s charging a cover charge or charging premiums for food and drinks.”… Here, Defendants benefitted from a ten dollar cover charge…they advertised for the event… and they received substantial monetary gains by not paying the required licensing fee and presumably by selling drinks to patrons watching the event.
Under similar circumstances, other courts in this circuit have assessed enhanced damages equal to two times the amount of statutory damages, which effectively amounts to an award of treble damages….In this case, the Court finds that an enhanced damages award of twice the statutory damages is sufficient to compensate Plaintiff and to deter Defendants from future violations.