What does Pay-Per-View mean for bar owners?

August 6, 2015Article

Greenberg Glusker’s own Ricardo Cestero is quoted in today’s Law360 article “Bars Illegally Showing Boxing Face Wicked Legal Knockout.”

Bars around the country are facing swift and often expensive lawsuits in connection with showing Pay-Per-View events like boxing and ultimate fighting competitions. The Federal Communications Act allows fines of up to $100,000.00 and attorney’s fees to prevailing parties.

Cestero, a partner in the Sports Law and Litigation practices at Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP, was quoted in an interview with Law360’s Ryan Davis, “most bar owners know they have to get a commercial actually means pay-per-view.”

In an attempt to get around the licensing fee that starts at $2,200 for small venues, bar owners simply pay the standard fee of $60 by doing one of two things. They either A) bring their cable box from home or B) configure the bar’s account (sometimes erroneously) as residential. When confronted with their failure to comply, owners claim no knowledge of the commercial license requirement. The statue under the FCA is strict liability therefore, whether the proprietor has knowledge or not is irrelevant.

As a recent example, the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight had J&J Sports Productions, Inc., the licensor, doing media interviews warning people that they would be cracking down on fight night. Telling the public that they would “have the most enforcement we've ever had,” J&J was pleasantly surprised at the reduction in piracy cases they found. Cestero says that, “more publicity about the lawsuits could help drive down piracy, as happened when the Recording Industry Association of America aggressively sued people over illegal music downloads.”

The article states that the two companies associated with selling commercial licenses to boxing and ultimate fighting have filed over 5,000 lawsuits combined over the past 10 years, bringing this type of piracy into sharp focus. Everyone agrees that the licensing fee will always be less than the fines and attorney’s fees the bar owner will ultimately have to pay. Cestero’s advice: “I advise clients to pay the license fee and make sure they get a license. To me, it's not worth the risk.”