BJJ Gym Being Sued By UFC Over Airing Of PPV

May 20, 2014 12:51 pm by Dana Becker

Stronghold Crossfit & Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a gym located in California, has come under attack by the UFC.

In court documents obtained by Combat Sports Law, the gym is being sued by Joe Hand Promotions after broadcasting UFC 145 in the gym back in 2012. It would appear they did not obtain the commercial exhibition licensing fee required to broadcast the event.

Joe Hand Promotions, which owned the commercial licensing rights, is doing the same thing that the UFC is – trying to stop piracy in regards to their pay-per-view broadcasts. Recently, the promotion filed a multi-million dollar suit against a person for pirating shows online.

The gym tried to state that they “functioned as a private residence at the time of the viewing” and did not profit from showing UFC 145 commercially. That didn’t stop Joe Hand Promotions, but the courts did, dismissing the lawsuit.

Here’s the explanation the court read for the decision:

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,[2] 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.” [Pl’s Opp. at 4.] 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 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.[3]

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 enters summary judgment in Defendants’ favor on Plaintiff’s federal statutory claims.

Personally, I don’t understand much of the legal garble inserted in the above text, but it sounds to me like UFC fans better be careful when purchasing shows. Maybe the promotion will start coming after those that ask friends to chip in a few bucks to order the event.

By the way, UFC 145 featured light heavyweight champion Jon Jones defending his belt against Rashad Evans and generated a reported 700,00 PPV buys and a total gate of $2.2 million.

By Dana Becker | Twitter

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