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Zuffa, LLC v. Kamranian

United States District Court, D. North Dakota, Southwestern Division

February 3, 2014

Zuffa, LLC, d/b/a The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Plaintiff,
v.
Reza T. Kamranian, Individually and as officer, director, shareholder and/or principal of Kamranian, Inc., d/b/a Reza's Pitch, a/k/a Reza's Pitch-Burgers & Beer, a/k/a Reza's Pitch Burgers & Beer; and Kamranian, Inc., d/b/a Reza's Pitch, a/k/a Reza's Pitch-Burgers & Beer, a/k/a Reza's Pitch Burgers & Beer, Defendants.

ORDER DETERMINING DAMAGES AND FOR ENTRY OF JUDGMENT

CHARLES S. MILLER, Jr., Magistrate Judge.

I. BACKGROUND

In this action, plaintiff Zuffa, LLC ("Zuffa") sued defendants for an unauthorized showing of an "Ultimate Fighting Championship" event (herein the "UFC #123 Broadcast" or "Broadcast") in defendant Reza Kamranian's sports bar, Reza's Pitch. Zuffa asserted two claims. The first was for a violation of the Communications Act of 1934, codified at 47 U.S.C. § 605(a), and the second for copyright infringement under 17 U.S.C. § 501.

On March 25, 2013, the court entered an order pursuant to cross-motions for summary judgment adjudging defendants liable on the copyright infringement claim and denying the Communications Act of 1934 claim. Zuffa, LLC v. Kamranian, No. 1:11-cv-036, 2013 WL 1196632 (D.N.D. Mar. 25, 2013). On October 24, 2013, the court conducted a trial on the damages.

II. FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS RE DAMAGES

The court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law with respect to damages for defendants' copyright infringement.

1. Unless otherwise indicated, the court relies upon the uncontested facts set forth in the court's earlier order granting summary judgment.

2. Reza's Pitch is a small "burger and beer" sports bar featuring a soccer theme. The proprietor is defendant Reza Kamranian.

3. The unauthorized showing of the UFC #123 Broadcast took place on Saturday evening, November 20, 2010. Earlier that week and again in the late afternoon of the day of the Broadcast, Brian Fox, an investigator working on behalf of Zuffa or its commercial distributor, contacted Reza's Pitch about whether the upcoming UFC fight would be shown. Fox was advised that it would be shown, but not until after the completion of the Dakota Wizards' basketball game.

4. Fox arrived at Reza's Pitch on the evening of the Broadcast at about 9:30 p.m. At that time there were 28 patrons on the premises, about 20 of whom were gathered in a group on one side of the bar and were Wizards' fans. Kamranian had a special arrangement with the Dakota Wizards, a local "D League" professional basketball team, to show their "away" games by way of an internet feed. The Wizards' group also included several of the team's office staff, family and friends of the players, and some fans.

5. There were eight television screens in Reza's Pitch on the night of the Broadcast. Kamranian had cabling running from a computer in his office to three of the televisions, which he occasionally used to display sporting events streamed from the internet - most often soccer matches not shown on cable television (consistent with the theme of the bar and the establishment's targeted customers) as well as games for both the Wizards and the Bismarck Bobcats semi-professional hockey team. When not used for this purpose, the televisions could be reconnected to the restaurant's cable television service for showing regular sports programming from the four major networks and cable sports channels such as ESPN.

6. Upon the conclusion of the Wizards' game, Kamranian went onto the computer in his office to switch to the website firstrowsports.com where he caused to be streamed to his computer the UFC #123 Broadcast for display on the three connected televisions that previously had been showing the Wizards' game. When the switch occurred, the UFC #123 Broadcast was already underway and was in the middle of one of the "undercard" matches preceding the featured fight.

7. Investigator Fox remained in the restaurant for about fifteen minutes, long enough to take head counts of the persons in the restaurant when he arrived and when he left, count the number of televisions, estimate the seating capacity, and document the unauthorized usage of the UFC #123 Broadcast.

8. There were two or three locations in Bismarck that had purchased the rights to display a closed-circuit television or satellite feed of the UFC #123 Broadcast. Investigator Fox audited a total of eleven establishments in the Bismarck area that had not purchased a license for the Broadcast. In addition to Reza's Pitch, he discovered one other violator. The estimated cost for a site license to show ...


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