$9,350 in Damages Ordered for Mayweather v. Pacquiao Commercial Piracy

Reasons for judgement were recently published by the US District Court, D. Connecticut, assessing damages of $9,350 for the commercial piracy of the Mayweather v. Pacquiao boxing bout.

In the recent case (J & J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Pistol Pete’s Bar and Grill) the Defendants displayed the bout without paying the commercial sub licencing fees.  These would have been $3,000. The Defendants charged a cover of $10 per patron and between 32 and 38 customers were present.

The Plaintiff obtained default judgement and requested $50,000 in damages.  The Court instead awarded $9,350 in damages noting this amount covered the cost of the licence, further damages to punish the piracy and sufficient damages to strip any profits generated from displaying the bout.  In reaching this figure District Judge Jeffrey Meyer provided the following reasons:

Here, multiplying the number of patrons by $50 would yield damages of $1,750. As indicated by the rate sheet that plaintiff provided, plaintiff would ordinarily have charged defendants $3,000 to broadcast this boxing match, based on the size of the establishment. See Doc. #15 at 15 (approximate capacity of establishment is 100 people); id. at 30 (indicating a rate of $3,000 for an establishment with 1-100 capacity). In light of the foregoing, the Court finds that an award of basic statutory damages of $3,000 is appropriate.

In this case, the violation was indeed willful; defendants never contracted with plaintiff to show the match, and “[s]ignals do not descramble spontaneously, nor do television sets connect themselves to cable distribution systems.” Ibid. But there is no evidence that defendants engaged in repeated violations, that defendants charged a premium on food and beverages, or that plaintiff suffered significant actual damages. Defendants accrued some unlawful monetary gains by charging a cover fee of $10 per patron (amounting to $350 in profits). There is also evidence of very modest advertising of the event on defendants’ Facebook page.

In light of the above factors, I conclude that enhanced damages of $40,000 would be excessive. Courts in this circuit often find that, absent any of the above enumerated factors, twice the base statutory damages is sufficient to achieve the deterrence objective of 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(C)(ii). See, e.g., Trenchard, 2014 WL 854537, at *4; Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. La Nortena Restaurant Inc., 2011 WL 1594827, at *5 (E.D.N.Y. 2011). In this case, that method would result in enhanced statutory damages of $6,000. In addition, I will add $350 to account for the profits from the cover fee that defendants charged patrons to view the unlawfully broadcast boxing match, making for enhanced damages of $6,350, and total damages of $9,350.

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