If a Pay Per View is particularly popular should a court increase damages for piracy? At least one judge thinks so as demonstrated in reasons for judgment published last month by the US District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania.
In the recent case (Zuffa, LLC v. Denise Perris & Lyle Cafe Inc) the Defendants displayed UFC 229 in a commercial establishment without purchasing the commercial sub licensing rights to do so. They were sued and Zuffa obtained default judgement.
The commercial sublicening fees would have been $788 but the court noted statutory damages should be higher because this was “the third-highest pay-per-view fight in history, with 2.5 million PPV buys. That has to count for something“.
The Court awarded $2,500 in statutory damages and a further $7,500 in enhanced damages. In awarding statutory damages above the actual cost of the program Chief District Judge Mark R. Hornak provided the following reasons:
The record indicates that one (1) of Zuffa’s auditors visited Lytle Cafe on October 6, 2018, and observed that the bar could hold between one (1) and fifty (50) patrons. (ECF No. 17-4, at 9.) Accordingly, if Defendants had obtained proper authorization to broadcast the fight, they would have paid $788.00 for the activation fee. (ECF No. 17-4, at 1.)
The Court would be remiss, however, if it failed to recognize that it appears that the Khabib v. McGregor fight was the third-highest pay-per-view fight in history, with 2.5 million PPV buys. That has to count for something. Not only did Defendants’ piracy and copyright violation damage Zuffa’s business, but Defendants’ actions also harmed lawful customers who shelled out the money to pay the proper licensing fee to watch the big matches in a legitimate setting. Thus, the Court bumps up statutory damages to $2,500 against each of Denise Perris and Lytle Cafe.