TV Signal Piracy Defense Law Firm – [Potential Defenses] The Trespasser and Illegal Photography/Filming.
Anyone who has been on the receiving end of a phone call (or notice of a federal court lawsuit, or legal demand letter) from an aggressive collection lawyer for G&G Closed Circuit Events, J&J Sports Productions or Joe Hand Promotions, knows that the are out to get you. They may be demanding $25,000 or more. Their legal letters may be demanding $100,000 or more (plus attorney fees) for violations of the Federal communication laws, in particular 47 U.S.C. 605, and 553. When this happens, you may feel that your business and livelihood is on the line. If fact, it may be. When your back is against the wall you need a law firm that will examine all the potential defenses, counterclaims, and crossclaims. This blog discusses two potential issues that may be relevant in the right case.
We all know that business are open to make money and to serve customers. Say, as part of a hypothetical, a night club in San Francisco has a sign on their window or door which states:
This is a private facility and our customers expect privacy. You may only enter this establishment for the purposes of being a paid customer. No one is permitted to take photos or videos in this establishment without the express written permission of the owner. Any violation of these rules by any persons will be considered a trespass and invasion of privacy and may result in legal action for damages. Thank you, the Management.”
The purpose of the letter is to ensure that customers who come in have privacy and will not have their photos or videos taken by anyone, much less a private investigator who is not a real customer and is instead there (uninvited) trying to take photos to document and cable piracy or PPV theft case. For example, in a local bar, customers may include married persons who are there with an escort. They come to this establishment because there will not be an “Papparazzi” or people looking to take their photo or film them in a video. Does a bar owner have a right to restrict the people who come in and what the can and cannot do? I think so. Remember the sign you see all over the place – “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” If you are coming into a restaurant under false pretenses (there to take photos and videos and to prepare an infringement declaration) in violating the entrance requirement (like a ticket to Disneyland or other place that may place restrictions on entry) does this illegal entry create liability to these companies and their “agent” or “independent” private eye? Perhaps.
The state law of trespass may have to be examined in situations like this. Any pictures taken of copyrighted works in the bar, tavern, club, or sports bar may that are owned by the bar (ex. photo of a fishing trip) may trigger a copyright infringement claim. Taking photos was prohibited, and what's more, they took a picture of a copyrighted photo for the purposes of financial game to these satellite piracy companies and their attorneys. In this instance would the law firms and their private sleuth be subject to a claim for copyright infringement? If any of the photos are actually copyrighted with the U.S. Copyright office, then perhaps the tables are turned and a countersuit for infringement might be possible seeking both $150,000 in statutory damages and attorney fees (which would make their $100,000 or $60,000 claim outweighed by yours). These are the kinds of crucial facts that have to be examined in every case.
Arizona Law on surreptitious video taping
Another potential legal issue arises to the boxing companies when their Private Eyes are snapping away photos and taking pictures in an establishment and snap photos they have no legal right to take. For example, if you have a sports bar in Tempe, Arizona and J&J or G&G send in their investigators, following up on a facebook advertisement, come in and take explicit pictures of some of the females in the bar (perhaps to try to be funny when they all look at the pictures later), this could create a serious legal problem under Arizona law. For example, the law states:
13-3019. Surreptitious photographing, videotaping, filming or digitally recording or viewing; exemptions; classification; definitions
A. It is unlawful for any person to knowingly photograph, videotape, film, digitally record or by any other means secretly view, with or without a device, another person without that person's consent under either of the following circumstances:
1. In a restroom, bathroom, locker room, bedroom or other location where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and the person is urinating, defecating, dressing, undress