UFC 171 Piracy Leads to $13,500 Damage Award

Adding to this site’s UFC PPV piracy database, reasons for judgement were recently released by the US District Court, SD West Virginia, Charleston Division, assessing damages for the commercial piracy of a UFC broadcast.

In the recent case (Joe Hand Promotions, Inc v. Nichols) the Defendants displayed UFC 171 in a commercial establishment without paying the Plaintiff the commercial sub licencing fee.  The fee would have been $900.

The Plaintiff sued and obtained default judgement.  In assessing total damages of $13,500 District Judge Thomas Johnston provided the following reasons:

The Court….finds that $4500 is just compensation for Defendants’ violation of the statute. In calculating statutory damages, the Court takes into account the $900 lost sublicensing fee, the number of patrons present at Miguel’s at the time of the Broadcast, and the estimated 50-person occupancy limit.

 

…Joe Hand has submitted no evidence that Defendants secured substantial monetary gains by virtue of their illegal activity. Further, because Miguel’s is a small facility with a maximum capacity of no more than 50 persons, Joe Hand’s actual damages are relatively insignificant. There is no proof that Defendants advertised the event. Finally, with regard to the fifth factor, Mr. Shifflett attests that he was not charged a cover fee at Miguel’s on the night of the Broadcast. (Shifflett Aff. at 1.) Consistent with the deterrence goals of § 605, and as a means of penalizing Defendants’ repeated violations, the Court awards enhanced damages equal to two times the statutory damages, or $9000. This results in total damages of $13,500 against Defendants.

Joe Hand also seeks recovery of the costs expended in prosecuting this action. In this case, Joe Hand’s costs are limited to the Court’s $400 filing fee. (Wagner Decl. at ¶ 8, ECF No. 14-2.) The Court directs full recovery of costs. § 605(e)(3)(B)(iii).

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