Saper Law Represents Defendants in Pay-Per-View Lawsuits

Being sued for showing a pay-per-view event? Saper Law can help.

Every year, hundreds of individuals find themselves accused of illegally showing pay-per-view events such as boxing or mixed martial arts (MMA). If you received a demand letter or have been served in this type of lawsuit, Saper Law may be able to help.

Saper Law represents individuals and businesses sued for the unauthorized receiving and showing of pay-per-view sports events.  This article provides some information to help you understand these “signal piracy” lawsuits and how they might affect you.

What you need to know:

Recently, the promoters of pay-per-view sporting events have been cracking down on what they consider “piracy.” The biggest players in this crackdown are J&J Sports Productions, Inc. and Joe Hand Promotions, Inc., although since 2010 Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has been employing its own anti-piracy teams.[1] In 2010 alone, J&J Sports filed 708 law suits, Joe Hand filed 515 law suits, and the UFC filed 41 law suits.[2]

How do they know who’s showing these events? Pay-per-view providers send out private investigators and undercover surveillance teams to bars, taverns, and other public establishments.  They look for commercial establishments who are exhibiting the pay-per-view events  without paying the required subscription fee.

Under the Interception of Radio Communications Act and the Unauthorized Reception of Cable Service Act – you could face over $100,000 in damages if you are found to have willfully transmitted a cable or satellite signal (e.g. a pay-per-view boxing match) without the proper license.[3] These federal statutes allow awards of up to $10,000 for each violation with a penalty as high as $100,000 if you have acted willfully and for commercial advantage or private financial gain.[4]

In accordance with these Acts,  pay-per-view plaintiffs have obtained considerable judgments. For example, in October 2009, a federal judge ordered a Bakery Shop in Queens, N.Y. to pay $110,000, plus $540 in costs for showing a March 2009 World Cup qualifying soccer match.[5] Many recent cases in Illinois have resulted in awards for providers between $10,000 and $40,000.

These suits are not limited to commercial establishments.  Even if you are a noncommercial establishment, if you are using a descrambling device or other improper means of acquiring a television signal, you may be subject to the same federal statutes and the same potential damages.

What to do now:

Do not ignore any letters from your cable/satellite provider or pay-per-view provider, and contact an attorney as soon as possible.

A knowledgeable attorney may be able to assist in negotiating a favorable settlement to your case or in directing you to another course of action.  With the help of a knowledgeable attorney, many of these types of cases have been settled for well below the exorbitant demands made by the pay-per-view providers in their initial correspondence.



[1] UFC officials vow to sue individuals for pay-per-view piracy in forthcoming crackdown, MMAJUNKIE.COM (Jan 4, 2010), http://www.mmajunkie.com/news/2010/01/ufc-officials-vow-to-sue-individuals-for-pay-per-view-piracy-in-forthcoming-crackdown.

[2] Pay-Per-View Wrestles With Bar Owners, BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK (April 12, 2012), http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-04-12/pay-per-view-wrestles-with-bar-owners.

[3] 47 U.S.C. § 605 (1996)

[4] 47 U.S.C. § 605

[5] Pay-Per-View Wrestles With Bar Owners, BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK (April 12, 2012), http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-04-12/pay-per-view-wrestles-with-bar-owners.

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