“Loser Pays” in UFC Piracy Prosecutions is a One Way Street

Reasons for judgement were recently published by the US District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division, demonstrating that the protections to recover legal fees in US Cable Act piracy prosecutions are a one way street.

In the recent case (Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Matijevich) the Defendant Matijevich was personally sued, along with an LLC that owned and operated a commercial establishment that displayed a pay per view program without purchasing the commercial sub licencing rights from the Plaintiff.  The Court noted the following facts:

A bar patron brought his own cable box into Defendant UDL’s bar and asked the bar staff to plug in the box to show the fight. As the Court previously determined, Defendant UDL is, of course, liable for this conduct. However, this case does not represent a flagrant violation, and it does not appear that Defendant UDL profited significantly from the violation.

The Plaintiff’s claim against the LLC succeeded with the Court awarding $3,000 in damages, $2,632.50 in attorney fees, and $520 in costs.

The Claims against the personal Defendant were dismissed.  Matijevich noted that he  incurred over $10,000 in attorney fees and asked to be awarded these since he successfully defendant himself against the lawsuit.  The Court declined noting the remedy of awarding legal fees is only extended to the Plaintiff.  In reaching this conclusion District Judge John E. Martin provided the following reasons:

Because the Court granted summary judgment in his favor on all Plaintiff’s claims, Defendant Matijevich argues that he is entitled to $10,625.00 in attorney fees “pursuant to the statutes that allow for the prevailing party to be granted damages and attorney fees.” Defendant UDL, who was represented by the same counsel as Defendant Matijevich, argues that the requested amount of $10,625.00 covers its fees for prevailing on Plaintiff’s § 553 claim, as well.

Under the two Cable Act claims Plaintiff pursued, however, neither Defendant is entitled to fees. Those sections authorize fees to be paid only to “an aggrieved party who prevails” in a civil suit. 47 U.S.C. § 553 (c)(2)(C); 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(B)(iii). Consequently, the Cable Act fee statute is not a two-way street. Defendants pointed to no other authority authorizing an award of fees in their favor, and so the Court does not award them any fees.

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