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Pay-Per-View Sporting Events – Know The Risks

If you are planning to watch any televised pay-per-view event,

Pay The Appropriate Licensing Fee!

Thinking it might be easier to pay the residential fee and devise a way of showing it in your commercial establishment?

Think again.

Considering not paying a licensing fee at all and hoping you don't get caught?

Consider again.

And please don't fail to obtain the appropriate license but advertise that you'll be showing the fight with a cover charge, because there's a very good chance you'll be hearing from Attorney Thomas P. Riley on behalf of his clients, J & J Sports Productions, G & G Closed-Circuit Events, and Joe Hand Promotions.

J & J Sports Productions, G & G Closed-Circuit Events, and Joe Hand Promotions have filed thousands of suits across the country alleging that business owners and entities have shown pay-per view boxing matches and other sporting events without paying the appropriate licensing fee. Here's how they operate: J & J Sports Productions, G & G Closed-Circuit Events, and Joe Hand Promotions hire hundreds of "auditors" on the evening pay-per-view events are televised to "identify establishments that unlawfully exhibit" the pay-per-view event.1 These "auditors" obtain video of the pay-per-view event being shown and/or draft affidavits stating the number of patrons in the establishment, the numbers of televisions, etc. Attorney Thomas P. Riley may then send a letter, claiming that the broadcast was in violation of the law, including but not limited to Title 47 U.S.C. Section 605, and/or Title 47 U.S.C. Section 553. 2

Information You Should Know

Some attorneys who advertise expertise in this area and offer to represent you claim that you should pay them to defend you given the likelihood of damage awards that can reach in excess of $100,000.00. And when J & J Sports Productions, G & G Closed-Circuit Events, and Joe Hand Promotions file suit, they request the maximum statutory damages, in excess of $100,000.00 per violation. Yes, the damages provisions of both statues contain reference to some frightening sounding dollars, but both the statutes and the judges that hear these cases attempt to link amounts recoverable to actual damages and the gross revenues attributable to the violation. Indeed, both sections specifically state that, "where the court finds that the violator was not aware and had no reason to believe that his acts constituted a violation of this section, the court in its discretion may reduce the award of damages to a sum of not less than $100."

J & J Sports Productions, G & G Closed-Circuit Events, Joe Hand Promotions, Attorney Tom Riley, and even some attorneys offering to defend you will try to scare you with the "complexities" of the federal court system where these cases are filed.

If served with a complaint, you have a number of options: retain an attorney to handle the case for you; represent yourself; or do nothing. If you do not appear, J & J Sports Productions, G & G Closed-Circuit Events, and Joe Hand Promotions may file what is called a motion for default judgment, seeking an order stating that you owe J & J Sports Productions, G & G Closed-Circuit Events, or Joe Hand Promotions a certain amount of money. In reported default judgment cases, the judges usually award damages of some multiplier of the commercial licensing fee plus costs and attorneys' fees.

Have Your Received a Demand Letter?

If you have received a demand letter or been served with a lawsuit accusing you of violating Title 47 U.S.C. Section 605, and/or Title 47 U.S.C. Section 553, and are uncertain how to proceed, Attorney Lisa Clay would be happy to discuss your options with you either via e-mail or by calling (312) 753-5302.

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Footnotes

1 Affidavit of Joseph Gagliardi filed in support of Plaintiff’s Motion for Default Judgment, Case No. 12 cv3854, Northern District of Illinois, Docket No. 17-1 filed 9/11/12).

2 47 U.S.C. § 553; § 605 allows for a reduction to a sum of not less than $250.

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