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Joe Hand or G&G Closed Circuit trying to KNOCKOUT your small business for PPV Piracy Broadcasting?

Posted by Steve Vondran | May 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

Welcome to our Telecom Piracy Resource Center - TV Signal Piracy Defense Law Firm - 

We handle cases of Cable and Satellite TV piracy and IPTV dealing with Joe Hand Promotions, G&G Closed Circuit, Dish/Nagrastar, Innovative Sports Management, DBA Innovative Sports Management, J&J Sports Production and similar companies.  Call us to discuss at (877) 276-5084
Joe hand promotion lawsuit defense

August 2021 Updates

We are still seeing many cases of illegal fight broadcast being pursued by companies like G&G Closed Circuit Events, J&J Sports and Joe Hand Promotions.  The global health crisis has done little to step on the brakes of this area of law, and settlements are still as aggressive as ever.  However, some telecom attorneys will look at financial hardships such as loss of business due to Covid mandates, loss or employees, customers, etc.  Call us to discuss at (877) 276-5084 if you received a letter or telephone call demand payment and/or threatening legal action.

September 2020 Updates - Joe Hand getting aggressive and Covid-19 is no deterrent to them.

Here is what we see now.   If you are being threatened with a large settlement for illegal broadcasting of a boxing match or soccer game, call us for a free initial consultation.  We can be reached at (877) 276-5084.  

Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. (pla) 3:2020cv00382 Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Griffith, Jr. et al Tennessee Eastern District Court 08/26/2020  
  Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. (pla) 3:2020cv00640 Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Simpson et al Tennessee Middle District Court 07/22/2020  
  Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. (pla) 3:2020cv00638 Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Saman et al Tennessee Middle District Court 07/22/2020  
  Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. (pla) 3:2020cv00311 Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Little et al (TV2) Tennessee Eastern District Court 07/14/2020  
  Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. (pla) 3:2020cv00308 Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Hashem et al (TV2) Tennessee Eastern District Court 07/14/2020  
  Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. (pla) 3:2020cv00310 Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Patel et al (TV2) Tennessee Eastern District Court 07/14/2020  
  Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. (pla) 3:2020cv00312 Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Pitner et al (TV2) Tennessee Eastern District Court 07/14/2020  
  Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. (pla) 3:2020cv00313 Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Huff et al (TV2) Tennessee Eastern District Court 07/14/2020

 

Introduction

So you just received a letter telling you that your company illegally broadcast a paid commercial fight and showed it at your restaurant, club, sports bar, barber shop, golf club, tavern or nightclub without paying for the proper commercial license.  Now, what do you do?  If the letter is to be believed, you could face over $100,000 in potential (enhanced) damages and have pay their costs and attorney fees.  This can be a very frightening situation for the small business owner.

Having dealt with many Plaintiff attorneys in this niche area of federal telecommunications and copyright law, I can tell you they can be VERY aggressive and do not have a big heart for the “sorry I didn't mean to upset your client” plea or "are you kidding me we didn't make any money" pitch. 

Instead, they will be seeking money damages usually in the five-figure range ($10,000 or more, sometimes as high as $50,000 or even more). 

This blog talks about one potential defense to consider, the so-called "internet defense."  This is where the TV signal broadcast is not received through either satellite (section 605) or cable (section 553) transmissions but rather via an internet protocol.  Currently, this is NOT what the statutes are aimed at prohibiting as the laws were written many years ago. 

Attorney Steve TIP 2021:  Note that there has also been a law recently enacted to CRIMINALIZE streaming internet piracy.  No lawyer or law firm should ever threaten you with criminal liability.  This is considered UNETHICAL.  

Watch Attorney Steve explain unauthorized broadcast law in this video

VIDEO:  here is a video discussing in general what's going on in these types of legal cases.  Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to our legal channel and join over 30,000 people who love our legal videos!!!  We have surpassed THREE MILLION VIDEO VIEWS!!

QUICK TIP:  What to do if you get a notice of infringement letter (LAWYER UP)!!!

  1. Don't panic (these things happen - it is another business issue you just have to deal with - we can help)
  2. Don't CALL them or EMAIL them (they will be taking notes and may “spin” what you are telling them).  Worse you you could violate the #1 rule in piracy defense.   Don't put things in writing that can be used against you, such as an admission to broadcasting piracy.
  3. Call us for a free initial consultation (we can provide a general idea of what you are looking at).
  4. Don't spoil evidence (meaning, destroy laptops, servers, or other evidence), if you end up having to defend against a federal court lawsuit, this can come back to bite you when they ask questions at a deposition under oath about what happened to any evidence you had in your possession. 
  5. Don't talk to other people (for example, the cook at your restaurant or a waiter or server). They could become witnesses against you in a court of law.

Overview - unauthorized illegal broadcast of UFC fights

The main gist of these types of intellectual property actions is that there is a boxing or other championship fight, martial arts, or soccer game Pay-Per-View, that is being shown commercially at your bar, restaurant, nightclub, lounge, sports bar, tattoo parlor, hookah bar or some other commercial establishment. 

Typically, you have to pay for the proper “commercial” license if you want to have the legal right to publicly display the fight in a commercial business (typically, a thousand to several thousands of dollars depending upon your legal occupancy level for your establishment).   If you don't, and you advertise the event on your facebook page (which is typical), you can be found out an a retired police or internet investigator may come look your establishment over, and take pictures on the night of the fight, and present a signed affidavit to the IP boxing or combat law firms so they can pursue "anti-piracy" enforcement efforts - which some of their distributor contracts with their promoters may require them to do (and to split in part the fees recovered).

For example (a common problem), if you only have the “residential” (non-commercial) license, some people mistakenly believe they can take their laptop into the business establishment, plug it in with an HDMI cable to the TV's, and broadcast the fight for your customers and patrons.  Some companies might charge a "cover" or have "drink premiums."  This can lead to enforcement actions by one or more of the above-referenced companies.

Potential Plaintiff Attorneys:  a letter may come from the law firm of Jekielek & Janis, LLP (UFC).  Another letter you might get comes from the Riley Law Firm in Pasadena, California.  Both of these IP firms are very skilled and experienced and will usually pursue rather high legal demands.  Factor this in with the fact that they are not afraid to go to court, and you need to make sure you are being very calculating in your settlement approach and response.

This blog talks about one UFC case that was brought in San Diego, and explains how the DEFENDANT WON on motion for summary judgement arguing, in essence, that their actions were not actually against a law.

NOTE:  The law is in a constant state of flux, and can highly depend on judge and jurisdiction, so you need to check to see if this is good persuasive law in your area.

The "Internet Defense" in Boxing Piracy Cases Explained

What if you are using an Amazon (Firestick), (or ESPN app, Fubu, DAZN or other device that works via internet protocol and access the internet through a WiFi account) you might be asking yourself, did I violate the law?  Is this against the law? Below are a few cases that discuss the "internet defense" in these types of cases and how it might help.

NOTE:  This is general legal information only and not legal advice or a substitute for legal advice.  There are many factors to consider in a signal piracy case.

Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. vs. Michael E. Cusi et al.

Here is one case where a Defendant prevailed on a motion (MSJ) to get the case kicked out.

JOE HAND PROMOTIONS, INC., Plaintiff,

vs.

MICHAEL E. CUSI, RAQUEL REGNO and RAYMOND REGNO, individually and d/b/a THE STRONGHOLD CROSSFIT & BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU; and CGC BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU, INC., an unknown business entity d/b/a THE STRONGHOLD CROSSFIT & BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU

Plaintiff was sued by Joe Hand Promotion and in affirmative defense raised the defense that there was no commercial broadcast and simply a private viewing in a private residence. 

They sought (a smart move if you did not violate the law and are being wrongfully accused) and recovery of attorney's fees and costs pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5, for vindicating the public interest. 

The Plaintiff was represented by Law Offices of Thomas P. Riley, P.C. of Pasadena, a prolific filer of these types of lawsuits.

Here are some snippets from the Court's Order on motion to dismiss granting Defendant the win on an apparent "internet defense":

  • This action arises out of events involving the broadcast of an “Ultimate Fighting Championship” program at Stronghold CrossFit & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (“Stronghold CrossFit”) on April 21, 2012, at 2176 Chatsworth Boulevard, San Diego, California 92107
  • In its Complaint, Plaintiff asserts four claims:
  • (1) Violation of 47 U.S.C. section 605,
  • (2) Violation of 47 U.S.C. section 553,
  • (3) Violation of California Business and Professions Code section 17200 et seq., and
  • (4) conversion
  • California anti-SLAPP discussed: Finally, the Plaintiff moves under California Code of Civil Procedure § 425.16 to strike the Defendants' counterclaim. Section 425.16(b)(1), which addresses Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“SLAPP”), provides, A cause of action against a person arising from any act of that person in furtherance of the person's right of petition or free speech under the United States or California Constitution in connection with a public issue shall be subject to a special motion to strike, unless the court determines that the plaintiff has established that there is a probability that the plaintiff will prevail on the claim. Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 4.25(b)(1). California anti-SLAPP motions are available to litigants proceeding in federal court. Thomas v. Fry's Elecs., Inc., 400 F.3d 1206, 1206 (9th Cir. 2005). However, Plaintiff's anti-SLAPP motion must be denied because it is directed at Defendants' counterclaim, which presents a federal constitutional question. Hilton v. Hallmark Cards, 599 F.3d 894, 901 (9th Cir. 2010) (“[A] federal court can only entertain anti-SLAPP special motions to strike in connection with state law claims.”). With respect to attorney's fees and costs, the Court finds that although Plaintiff overreached on the applicability of the anti-SLAPP statute to Defendants' counterclaim, such overreach does not rise to the level of frivolity. Thus, each party is to bear its own fees and costs associated with litigating the motion.
  • Defendants contend summary judgment is appropriate because Sections 605 and 553 do not apply to programs received and displayed over the internet. Defendants contend that they purchased the Event over the internet, so that their actions cannot be governed by statutes designed to combat interceptions of satellite or cable signals. Plaintiff contends that the type of internet service determines whether liability exists under Sections 503 or 605.
  • Plaintiff states, “[w]hat Defendants fail to address is how they accessed the internet.  The signal came from somewhere.” To support this proposition, Plaintiff cites Zuffa, LLC v. Kamranian, 2013 WL 1196632 (D. N.D. March 25, 2013). There, a sports bar streamed an Ultimate Fighting Championship event via the internet.  See discussion below.
  • Even assuming that Plaintiff is correct that the type of internet service determines whether liability exists under Sections 503 and 605,4 Plaintiff has failed to produce any evidence tending to demonstrate the type of internet used by Defendants. Moreover, as the discovery phase of the case is complete, Plaintiff cannot produce admissible evidence to support a necessary fact to support its claims under Sections 553 and 605. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(B). Accordingly, the Court authorization. The defendant produced evidence demonstrating that it had cable internet. Accordingly, the Court dismissed the plaintiff's Section 605 claim, as Section 605 only covered “radio” (i.e., satellite) signals.
  • The Court enters summary judgment in Defendants' favor on Plaintiff's federal statutory claims.

Defenses in Joe Hand and G&G Closed Circuit Cases

This shows that there are potential defenses to boxing piracy lawsuits and having a local IP lawyer review your potential options is likely your best bet. Don't be bullied by an attorney who tries to tell your actions subject you to fines, fees, and potential incarceration.  Have your case reviewed first by an experienced TV signal piracy law firm.

Remember, these federal statutes came BEFORE the internet, so likely Congress did not contemplate internet streaming as a means of downloading and watching UFC championship or boxing fights. 

FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS:  If you watched a fight via a stream and the discovery period closes without Plaintiff making this finding, a MSJ might be the appropriate move.  But again, it costs money to get to this point, and many small business owners may choose to pay a settlement as opposed to contesting this point and "rolling the dice" so to speak.

Other cases discussing the illegal broadcast "Internet Defense."

As noted above, the anti-broadcast piracy statutes (section 605 (Satellite) and section 553 (cable) do not seem to squarely prohibit piracy that takes place, for example, via a mobile application over the internet (ex. through the use of DAZN live streaming sports app). 

NOTE:  One should not rely on this defense in "going for it and just showing the fight because there is a potential defense", but if you are curious, there are some other cases that discuss or reference use of the internet (as opposed to cable or satellite transmission) to broadcast sports events.

  • Zuffa, LLC v. Kamranian, 2013 WL 1196632 (D. N.D. March 25, 2013). Here, a sports bar streamed an Ultimate Fighting Championship event via the internet without authorization. The defendant produced evidence demonstrating that it had cable internet. Accordingly, the Court dismissed the plaintiff's Section 605 claim, as Section 605 only covered "radio" (i.e., satellite) signals.

  • G & G Closed Circuit Events, LLC vs. Catherine Samusick (Central District of California 2020).  This is a key case that recognized the so-called "internet defense" (which really just seems to suggest it is not against the law to use the internet to access paid boxing fights).  As the court noted in its ruling on summary judgement:

"Defendant Catherine Samusick a/k/a Cathy Jean Samusick is an owner, and/or operator, and/or an individual with dominion, control, oversight and management of the commercial establishment doing business as Gold Brique a/k/a/ Gold Brique Inn."

"Defendant Catherine Samusick a/k/a Cathy Jean Samusick is also the individual specifically identified as the owner on the City of La Mirada Business License issued for Gold Brique a/k/a/ Gold Brique Inn. (Id. ¶8.) On Saturday, September 16, 2017, the evening that the program was displayed, plaintiff's investigator Victor S. Pattarroyo observed the program exhibited at Gold Brique a/k/a/ Gold Brique Inn."

"The program included the main event prizefight as well as fight commentary and under-card bouts. The defendant displayed the program at issue “using an Amazon Firestick which is an internet streaming device capable of receiving TV programming through the internet."

The court discussed the two statutes (Satellite/radio) and (Cable) and found no violation of either and dismissed the case and refused to hear the other two (State law) counterclaims (Conversion and B&P 17200).

The court held:

"A. Violations of Title 47 U.S.C. §§ 605 and 553 The defendant argues that, in this case, “the signal for the fight program in question was received over the internet” and therefore, “there was no cable or satellite signal that was intercepted, received, or exhibited.” The defendant further argues that, “[a]s such, there is no case for TV signal piracy, and therefore defendant must be granted summary judgment in her favor.”1 The Court finds that this internet defense is dispositive and will therefore limit its discussion to this issue. 47 U.S.C. section 605 provides:

(a) Practices prohibited . . . No person not being authorized by the sender shall intercept any radio communication and divulge or publish the existence, contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of such intercepted communication to any person. No person not being entitled thereto shall receive or assist in receiving any interstate or foreign communication by radio and use such communication (or any information therein contained) for his own benefit or the benefit of another not entitled thereto. No person having received any intercepted radio communication or having become acquainted with the contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of such communication (or any part thereof) knowing that such communication was intercepted, shall divulge or publish the existence, contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of such communication (or any part thereof) or use such communication (or any information contained therein) for his own benefit or for the benefit of another not entitled thereto..."

Clearly, the court felt this section was not violated.  Then, it turned to the Cable statute and noted:

"47 U.S.C. section 553 prohibits a person from “intercept[ing] or receiv[ing] or assist[ing] in intercepting or receiving any communications service offered over a cable system.” Cases involving violations via cable broadcast are governed by § 553 while communications received via satellite broadcast are governed by § 605.2 See e.g., Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Kennedy, 2012 WL 832543, *4 (N.D.Ohio March 9, 2012); J & J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Man Thi Doan, No. C-08-00324 RMW, 2008 WL 4911223, *2 (N.D.Cal. Nov. 13, 2008)."

Plaintiff could not prove a violation of either, noting:

"The Court finds that the above statutory language is unambiguous and does not support an interpretation that includes signals besides radio, satellite, and cable. Further, although the internet has been in wide usage since the mid-1990s, the legislature has not extended the reach of the statutes to include transmissions via the internet and it is not the purview of the district court to insert itself and make this determination."

The court continued:

"Accordingly, the Court declines to extend the interpretation of the relevant statutes to include unauthorized broadcasts via the internet. Other courts within the Ninth Circuit have reached similar conclusions. See Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Spain, Case No. 2:15-cv-00152-PHX-SMM (D.Ariz. Aug. 5, 2016, Dkt. No. 39) (In granting the defendants' summary judgment motion, the court found that sections 605 and 553 did not extend to internet streaming. The court reasoned that, “Sections 605 and 553 are inapplicable in this case. These statutes, originally enacted in 1934, were intended to prevent pirate interception of radio, satellite, and cable signals.”); see also Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Cusi, 2014 WL 1921760, *3, n.4 (S.D. Cal. May 14, 2014) (In granting summary judgment for the defendants the court stated it was, “skeptical that feeds received over the internet from a third party violate Sections 553 or 605.”).  Thus, because the Court finds the internet defense to be valid and there are no genuine issues of material fact, the defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

This is a very important case to be aware of, especially if your business is in California.  The Plaintiff telecommunications piracy lawyers will not raise the defense for you, that you can be sure of.

But, if, for example, you streamed the martial arts, boxing or soccer matches, for example, (via an application like DAZN, ESPN app, Fubu, or an Amazon Firestick or similar internet access device), you may have a good defense, depending on your jurisdiction, but must also consider whether any state law cases may follow (ex. for intellectual property "conversion" which is another cause of action we see raised from time to time). 

Other cases to reference / review

  • Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. vs. Shelley L. Spain, et al., Case No. 2:15-cv-00152-SMM;

Some other (potentially contrary cases) to consider

  • G & G Closed Circuit Events, LLC v. Gonzalez Ruiz, 2019 WL 1976486 (S.D.Cal. Mar. 14, 2019) (no internet defense).  "The program, a boxing match between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, was shown "in a delayed manner from the Internet by using a smart phone connected to the projection television" in the bar."  The court in Jaschkowitz granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff that the defendant's actions violated section 605.

  • J & J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Jaschkowitz, No. 5:14-CV-440-REW, 2016 WL 2727015 (E.D. Ky. May 6, 2016):

  • J & J Sports Productions, Inc. v. Vega, 2016 WL 4132290 (W.D.Ark. Aug. 2, 2016),("a straightforward reading of the statutes' pertinent text leads this Court to conclude that it is irrelevant whether the signal in this case was sent over the Internet. The statutes here say nothing one way or the other about the Internet; rather, they are explicitly concerned with whether unauthorized communications were sent or received “by wire").

Joe Hand Promotions and others may bring case as a "Copyright Infringement" case

Despite of whether or not an "internet defense" can succeed against a PPV Plaintiff, you also have to consider whether other laws have been violated, for example, copyright law.  In this case, the 553 and 605 claims may be dismissed on a motion for summary judgment, but what if other federal and state law claims were alleged?

Under copyright law, technically, you are making a "public display" of the PPV fight or soccer match and this can be deemed to fall under the umbrella of federal copyright infringement because only the exclusive copyright holder has that right.  NOTE:  IN THESE CASES, ALSO SEE WHO OWNS THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS TO ENFORCE THE COPYRIGHTS VIA ANTI-PIRACY EFFORTS.  THIS IS A POTENTIAL "STANDING" ISSUE.  In my experience, I see that after a promotion agreement is signed, the copyright is also assigned (but it does not appear to be all rights, just an assignment of territorial rights, and for example, only for commercial establishments less than 500 occupancy (fire marshall).  

Sample Allegations in Complaint

Here is a sample of one complaint I reviewed (not filed, but sent to me as a demand letter) which shows the copyright claim being made:

21. Pursuant to the contract, Plaintiff entered into subsequent agreements with various entities in the State of California, allowing them to publicly exhibit the Program to their patrons.

22. Plaintiff expended substantial monies in consideration of the aforementioned agreement to transmit the Program to those entities in the State of California, which in turn, entered into agreements with Plaintiff to exhibit the Program to their patrons.

23. In order for anyone to obtain the Broadcast through a website intended for private, non- commercial viewing, an individual purchaser would be provided with terms of service which specifically provide for non-commercial, personal use only.

24. Upon information and belief, with full knowledge that the Program was not to be received and exhibited by entities unauthorized to do so, the Defendants and/or their agent, servant, workmen or employees unlawfully intercepted, received and/or de-scrambled said satellite signal and did exhibit the Program at the above-captioned address at the time of its transmission willfully and for purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private financial gain.

25. Upon information and belief, Defendants and/or their agent, servant, workmen and/or employees intercepted Plaintiff's signal and/or used a device to intercept Plaintiff's Broadcast, which originated via satellite uplink and then re-transmitted via satellite or microwave signal to various cable and satellite systems. There are multiple illegal and unauthorized methods of accessing the Broadcast, including but not limited to the traditional ways of pirating a broadcast

(1) splicing an additional coaxial cable line or redirecting a wireless signal from an adjacent residence into a business establishment, de-crypt, unscramble and receive the closed circuit, “IPTV”, cable or satellite Broadcast;

(2) commercially misusing cable or satellite by registering same as a residence when it is, in fact, a business;

or

(3) taking a lawfully obtained box or satellite receiver from a private residence, into a business. Recently emerging over-the-top “OTT” technologies, used for the delivery of film and TV content via the internet, such as (1) Broadband or internet broadcast; and/or (2) Live Social Media Streaming (“Nano-Piracy”) are additional methods in which pirated material can be obtained without requiring users to subscribe to a traditional cable or satellite pay-tv service such as Comcast, DIRECTV or Time Warner Cable and are readily available to anyone with a Smartphone.

The misuse of OTT technology can allow commercial misuse of residential broadcasting feeds through the internet from anywhere in the world. Each of the above described methods would allow Defendants to access the Broadcast unlawfully and without Plaintiffs authorization. Prior to engaging in discovery, Plaintiff is unable to determine the manner in which Defendants obtained the Broadcast. However, it is logical to conclude that Defendants utilized one of the above described methods or another to intercept and exhibit the Broadcast without entering into an agreement to obtain it lawfully from Plaintiff, the legal rights holder for commercial exhibition.

26. 47 U.S.C. '605 (a) prohibits the unauthorized reception and publication or use of communications such as the transmission for which plaintiff had the distribution rights thereto.

27. By reason of the aforementioned conduct, the aforementioned Defendants willfully violated 47 U.S.C. '605 (a).

28. By reason of the aforementioned Defendants' violation of 47 U.S.C. '605 (a), Plaintiff has a private right of action pursuant to 47 U.S.C. '605.

29. As a result of the aforementioned Defendants' willful violation of 47 U.S.C. '605 (a), Plaintiff is entitled to damages in the discretion of this Court, under 47 U.S.C. '605 (e)(3)(C)(i)(II)

and (ii) of up to $110,000.00 as to each Defendant.

30. Pursuant to 47 U.S.C. '605,

Plaintiff is also entitled to an award of full costs, interest and reasonable attorneys fees.

COUNT II

31. Plaintiff hereby incorporates paragraphs A1"through A30"as though fully set forth herein.

32. Upon information and belief, with full knowledge that the Program was not to be received and exhibited by entities unauthorized to do so, the Defendants and/or their agent, servants workmen or employees did exhibit the Program at the above-captioned address at the time of its transmission willfully and for purposes of direct or indirect commercial advantage or private financial gain.

33. 47 U.S.C. '553 prohibits the unauthorized reception, interception and exhibition of any communications service offered over a cable system such as the transmission for which Plaintiff had the distribution rights thereto.

34. Upon information and belief, the Defendants individually, willfully and illegally intercepted said Program when it was distributed and shown by cable television systems.

35. By reason of the aforementioned conduct, the Defendants willfully violated 47 U.S.C. '553, thereby giving rise to a private right of action.

36. As a result of the Defendant's violation of 47 U.S.C. '553, Plaintiff is entitled to damages in an amount in the discretion of this Court, of up to $60,000.00, plus the recovery of full costs, interest and reasonable attorneys fees.

COUNT III

37. Plaintiff hereby incorporates paragraphs “1" through “36” as though fully set forth herein.

38. Plaintiff, by contract, is the copyright owner of the exclusive rights of distribution and public performance as to commercial establishments to the broadcast, including all undercard matches and the entire television Broadcast for Pacquiao v. Thurman, scheduled for July 20, 2019, via closed circuit television and via encrypted satellite signal. The Certificate of Registration was filed with the U.S. Copyright Office on August 15, 2019 under Registration Number PA 2-194-934. The Broadcast originated via satellite uplink and was subsequently re-transmitted to cable systems and satellite companies via satellite signal.

39. As a copyright holder of the above mentioned rights to the Broadcast, Plaintiff has rights to the Broadcast, including the right of distribution as well as the licensing to commercial establishments for the right to publicly exhibit same.

40. Defendants never obtained the proper authority or license from Plaintiff to publicly exhibit the Pacquiao v. Thurman Broadcast on July 20, 2019.

41. Upon information and belief, with full knowledge that the Broadcast can only be exhibited within a commercial establishment by the purchasing of a license from Plaintiff, Defendants and/or their agents, servants, workmen or employees illegally intercepted and/or publicly displayed the Broadcast and exhibited same in her commercial establishment on July 20, 2019.

42. Specifically, upon information and belief, the Defendants and/or their agents, servants, workmen and employees unlawfully obtained the Broadcast, enabling Defendants to publicly exhibit the Broadcast without paying the appropriate licensing fee to Plaintiff.

43. By reason of the aforementioned conduct, the Defendants willfully violated 17 U.S.C.

§501(a).

44. By reason of the aforementioned Defendants violation of 17 U.S.C. §501(a), Plaintiff

has a private right of action pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §501(b).

45. As a result of Defendants willful copyright infringement of Plaintiff's copyrights and exclusive rights under copyright by advertising and subsequently displaying Plaintiff's Broadcast, Plaintiff is entitled to damages, in the discretion of this Court, under 17 U.S.C. §504(c)(1) and 504(c)(2), of up to the maximum amount of $150,000.00.

Damages in Sports Piracy Cases (Illegal Interception and Display of a Broadcasting Signal)

Damages can vary in these types of cases.  Again, the Plaintiff copyright lawyers may come "out of the gate" asking for $10,000 to $50,000 or more.  We can usually help negotiate lower settlement amounts. 

However, under the respective statutes, you can be looking at the following:

A. Satellite Piracy [605]  - [Statutory Damages]  - Can range from $1,000 to $10,000.  $250 innocent defense ppossible.

B.  Cable Piracy [553] - [Statutory Damages] - Can range from $250 to $10,000.  $100 innocent defense possible.

C.  Costs/Attorney Fees - either of the above violations can result in your paying their counsel's legal or attorney fees (this can be anywhere from a couple thousand to many of thousands of dollars depending upon how long the federal case goes on).  Plus costs (ex. fees to file the lawsuit, costs to serve the summons and complaint and other costs.  NOTE:  the statute says the Court "shall" award Attorney fees to the "prevailing party."

D.  Enhanced Damages - for "willful" cases involving direct or indirect financial or commercial gain don't be surprised if you see the Plaintiff's lawyer seeking "enhanced damages" in the complaint.  This means they could be seeking (for each violation) up to $100,000 (for Section 605 Satellite Violations) or up to $60,000 for Section 553 (Cable theft) violations.  This is more reason you DO NOT WANT TO TALK WITH THEM OR COMMUNICATE WITH THEM BEFORE SEEKING TO COPYRIGHT TELECOM COUNSEL.

E.  Actual Damages - if actual damages exceeds with a Plaintiff broadcasting rights holder may receive, they can opt to pursue "Actual damages." This can include lost profits, commercial licensing fees, Defendant's profits (disgorge ill-gotten gains) and other damages they can prove in court.

Factors to Seek to Avoid Personal Liability for Owners

Here are some factors the Courts may look at to avoid imposing PERSONAL LIABILITY on officers, directors, owners.  Click to watch similar video for copyright law.

  1. Owner was not present on the day of the fight;
  2. Owner had no control over the TV's;
  3. Somebody else made the independent decision to plug in a firestick (or a customer did it, the bartender did it, etc.);
  4. Owner was no aware and did not authorize anyone to show the fight
  5. Was informed that using a business credit card allowed commercial broadcasting (as opposed to residential use only);
  6. There was no knowledge or intent to intent to financially benefit
  7. There was no reckless disregard of the laws
  8. There were no cover charges
  9. There was no advertising
  10. There were no drink premiums
  11. Hardly anyone was there (no profits)
  12. There was a sticker in the window that said no illegal photography inside the restaurant, bar, lounge (trespassing Plaintiff investigator)
  13. Did not intercept, receive, display, or exhibit the PPV event
  14. There was no use of a "blackbox", "pancake box" or "hotbox" (to install on cable TV line and allow for descrambled reception of a TV signal or broadcast)
  15. There was no illegal cable drop or splice to steal residential signal and steal PPV event
  16. There was no use of a "smartcard" or "text card" or "programming card" to install on DSS and descramble encrypted fights and view.
  17. There was no illegal satellite authorization codes used
  18. There were no illegal un-encryption devices used
  19. Intenet connected devices: (a) Tablets (Apple Ipad, Microsoft Surface), (b) Cell phones (iPhone, Samsung Galaxy), (c) Computers, desktop, laptops
  20. I paid for the commercial license (case of mistaken identity)

    Potential Settlement Factors in a Joe Hand Boxing Piracy Case

These settlements factors may apply in a Joe Hand, J&J Sports, Zuffa, Innovative Sports Management or G&G Closed Circuit case.  When you are involved in settlement negotiation, there are various things that we look at.  This is not an exclusive list:

1.  Does the Plaintiff have supporting evidence of unlawful exhibition (ex. video of the fight showing at your establishment on one or more televisions);

2.  Review of the investigator's report (is it clear, concise, reliable, factual)?  Many times these are pay-per-view investigators, if you will.  They don't get paid unless there is a recovery (not in all cases, but in some);

3.  Any pertinent photographs (ex. if their cameraman is "perving out" on your waitresses or shooting "upskirt videos" they could be the ones in violation of law).  We had one case where they seemed to overly-focusing on the breasts of one of the waitress for no particular reason.

4.  Can Defendant establish that they have paid for prior commercial transactions (ex. have you ever purchase a commercial fight before)?

5.  Have their been prior settlements or claims or allegations of infringement (ex. is your business a "repeat offender" if so, these can be tougher cases)?

6.  What is your financial net worth?  Plaintiff counsel will typically scope out your website, and location, and run a due diligence search to see what they think you can afford financially.

7.  Were the officers and directors on sight at the tine the fight or broadcast was shown?  Did the owners authorize it?  Fail to take action to stop the use of a firestick?  Was a customer responsible for showing the match?

8.   Did you advertise the fight (ex. on facebook or instagram)?  If so, this learns toward more willful in nature.

9.  Did you have "drink premiums"?

10.  Was there a cover charge?

11.  What is your occupancy maximum?  How many customers where there when the fight was broadcast?

12.  Were you told by a sports representative that your license was "good" for commercial use?

These are some of the main factors we deal with.  Usually, we do not get the actual "evidence file" until the case moves to Court (assuming it cannot be settled out-of-court).  So, you are sort of running on what they say at the early stages of the case.

Stay Calm

YES, I KNOW IT'S FRUSTRATING - especially with Covid.  Many people see this as a total "shakedown" or "extortion" but these "broadcast lawyers" are allowed to fight to enforce their client's intellectual property rights and these claims may be brought as copyright infringement claims (which allow up to $150,000 for unlawful public display of their fight signal), or 553 or 603 federal telecommunications claims which have a similar "statutory damage scheme.  Click here to learn about potential copyright damages for illegal fight broadcasting.

It is VERY IMPORTANT NOT TO TALK TO THEIR LAWYERS.  The main reason would be if you get into a "tiff" (which is not hard to do - some of their attorneys are incredibly aggressive and bullish) then they may really want to exact their revenge and file a federal court lawsuit.  Hiring an boutique IP and telecom law firm like ours to defend you and your business, hopefully will result in lowering the financial demands and mitigate your financial exposure - which can also extend to "officers and directors" of the company despite, who may be held "personally liable" despite the well-known "corporate veil." 

Contact a streaming video copyright infringement defense lawyer (TV Signal Piracy Defense)

If you received a Joe Hand Promotions, G&G Closed Circuit Events or J&J Sports Production demand letter alleging piracy of a PPV boxing match, call us for a free initial consultation. 

We have helped many companies across the United States defend in these types of cases which carry substantial fines and penalties and even pose the risk of criminal jail time (not typical however). 

Call us at (877) 276-5084.  We offer low flat rate fees for most defenses cases.

We have been in business since 2004 and have excellent client reviews

You can also send us an email through our contact form.

Our fees to represent your company

We offer low FIXED flat-rate fees (PREDICTABLE) for non-litigation cases and we have extensive federal court experience and a track record of success in this area.  We have appeared in over 200 federal court cases - mostly in California or Arizona.  We are admitted to all the California federal courts including the Northern District of California (San Francisco, Silicon Valley, San Jose), Central District (Orange County, Los Angeles, Hollywood), Eastern District (Fresno, Bakersfield, Sacramento, Redding) and Southern District (San Diego, Oceanside, La Jolla areas).

Check out our client Avvo reviews here.

About the Author

Steve Vondran

Thank you for viewing our blogs, videos and podcasts. As noted, all information on this website is Attorney Advertising. Decisions to hire an attorney should never be based on advertising alone. Any past results discussed herein do not guarantee or predict any future results. All blogs are written by Steve Vondran, Esq. unless otherwise indicated. Our firm handles a wide variety of intellectual property and entertainment law cases from music and video law, Youtube disputes, DMCA litigation, copyright infringement cases involving software licensing disputes (ex. BSA, SIIA, Siemens, Autodesk, Vero, CNC, VB Conversion and others), torrent internet file-sharing (Strike 3 and Malibu Media), California right of publicity, TV Signal Piracy, and many other types of IP, piracy, technology, and social media disputes. Call us at (877) 276-5084. AZ Bar Lic. #025911 CA. Bar Lic. #232337

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