$20,000 in Damages Awarded for UFC 162 Piracy

Adding to this site’s archived posts addressing combat sports piracy, reasons for judgement were released recently by the US District Court, ND Texas, Dallas Division, awarding damages of $20,000 for the commercial piracy of UFC 162.

In the recent case (Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. 2 Tacos Bar and Grill) the Defendant displayed UFC 162 without paying the Plaintiff the commercial sub licencing fee which would have been $1,300.  The Plaintiff sued and obtained default judgement.  Joe Hand sought $60,000 in total damages but the Court refused finding $20,000 sufficient in the circumstances. In reaching this assessment Chief District Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn provided the following reasons:

The uncontroverted evidence indicates that there were 70 patrons at 2 Tacos at the time of the violation. ECF No. 15-5 at 1. Plaintiff’s rate card for the Event further indicates that for a maximum occupancy of 165 people, the capacity of 2 Tacos, it would have cost $1,300 to legally broadcast the Event. ECF No. 15-4 at 1. The Court finds it reasonable, therefore, to award base statutory damages in the amount of $5,000. See Beck, 2013 WL 5592333, at *2 (“[T]o adequately deter piracy, the cost of piracy must be significantly higher than the cost of buying a license.”).

The Court concludes that 2 Tacos and Hinojosa acted willfully. Given “the limited methods of intercepting closed circuit broadcasting of pay-per-view events and the low probability that a commercial establishment could intercept such a broadcast merely by chance,” courts have held that conduct such as that of 2 Tacos and Hinojosa in this case to be willful and for the purposes of commercial advantage. E.g., Al-Waha Enters., 219 F. Supp. 2d at 777 (citing cases); Beck, 2013 WL 5592333 (“[I]t is obvious that commercial establishments show sports programs to draw business, not out of charity.”). However, the Court notes that there was no cover charge imposed to attend the Event, and Plaintiff does not allege that 2 Tacos was a repeat offender in broadcasting the Event. Taking those facts into consideration, therefore, the Court in its discretion will only award total damages of $15,000, or three times the base award amount. Al-Waha, 219 F. Supp. 2d at 766 (awarding treble damages in a similar case); Beck, 2013 WL 5592333 (same); see also Alima, 2014 WL 1632158, at *5 (awarding four times the base statutory damages in additional damages when a cover was charged to view the unauthorized broadcast). Plaintiff is thus entitled to a statutory damages pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(C)(i)(II) from 2 Tacos and Hinojosa, jointly and severally, in the amount of $5,000 and additional damages pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(C)(ii) from 2 Tacos and Hinojosa, jointly and severally, in the amount of $15,000. Plaintiff is entitled to total damages in the amount of $20,000.

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