$12,000 in Damages Ordered for Piracy of UFC 205

Adding to this site’s archived case summaries of combat sports piracy judgements, reasons were released this week by the US District Court, D. Colorado, ordering Defendants to pay $12,000 in damages for the piracy of UFC 205.

In the recent case (Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Purple Pig, LLC) the Defendants displayed UFC 205 in a commercial establishment without purchasing the commercial sub licence allowing them to do so.  The cost would have been $998.  The Plaintiff sued and obtained default judgment.  In assessing statutory damages at $3,000 and enhanced damages at $9,000 District Judge Philip Brimmer provided the following reasons:

Plaintiff seeks $5,000 in statutory damages for that violation. See Docket No. 18-1 at 6. In assessing the reasonableness of that amount, the Court will consider the licensing fee that defendants would have paid based on the potential occupancy of the space, any cover charge paid by the patrons in attendance on the night of the Program, and any profits associated with the purchase of food and drink during the Program. …

Here, plaintiff states that the commercial sublicensing fee would have been $998 for a maximum fire code occupancy of between seventy-six and one hundred persons. See Docket No. 18-2 at 2-3, ¶ 7; see also Docket No. 18-3 at 2 (expressing opinion that maximum occupancy of Purple Pig Pub is one hundred people). Plaintiff also presents evidence that there was no cover charge, the Program was exhibited on two sixty-to-seventy-inch television screens, and there were approximately fifty patrons in the establishment at the time of the Program. …

Considering these factors and the awards in other cases…the Court finds that $3,000 in statutory damages constitutes appropriate compensation for defendants’ violation of § 605(a)….

Plaintiff also seeks $20,000 in enhanced damages for a willful violation under § 605(e)(3)(C)(ii). That section provides:

In any case in which the court finds that the violation was committed willfully and for purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private financial gain, the court in its discretion may increase the award of damages, whether actual or statutory, by an amount of not more than $100,000 for each violation [of § 605(a)].

47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(C)(ii). Courts consider the following factors in determining whether to award enhanced damages for willful conduct under § 605(e)(3)(C)(ii): “repeated violations over an extended period of time; substantial unlawful monetary gains; significant actual damages to plaintiff; defendant’s advertising for the intended broadcast of the event; defendant’s charging a cover charge or charging premiums for food and drinks.” …

the factors identified above do not support a large enhanced damages award….The Court nevertheless recognizes the importance of addressing the willfulness of defendants’ conduct and deterring future violations. See Gutierrez, 544 F. Supp. 2d at 1185. For purposes of achieving these goals, the Court finds an enhanced damages award of $9,000, or treble the statutory damages, to be appropriate under § 605(e)(3)(C)(ii). 

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