Showtime Networks, Inc. is Going After Streaming Website to Prevent Illegal Mayweather Fight Coverage
In a federal lawsuit and request for temporary restraining order, Showtime Networks, Inc. is attempting to prevent the illegal streaming of the upcoming August 26, 2017 UFC boxing Ultimate Fighting Championship. Mayweather is undefeated with a perfect 49-0 record.
Showtime states that the Defendants are not Licensed Distributors of the pay-per-view fight, and other than Plaintiff’s Licensed Distributors, there are no distributors authorized to provide live pay-per-view access to the Coverage in the United States and Canada.
One of the defendants, Showtime alleges, is the owner of the website Livestreamhdq.com (“LiveStreamHDQ”), an illicit live streaming website. The lawsuit alleges that Showtime “has had extensive experience trying to prevent live streaming websites … in the past. In addition to bringing litigation, this experience includes sending cease and desist demands to LiveStreamHDQ in response to its unauthorized live streaming of the record-breaking fight between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.”
Here is a copy of the Showtime Networks, Inc. Lawsuit against the Mayweather – McGregor Unauthorized Streaming Sites:
Showtime Networks Inc v John Does 17-cv-06041 CDCA
The Mayweather-vs-mcgregor-live.us home page also includes the following subtitles:
Mayweather vs McGregor Live Fight Online at Boxing Floyd Mayweather vs Connor McGregor Fight Live Streaming From Las Vegas, MGM Grand, 2017 [sic].” In addition, the website includes links to previous posts titled “Watch Mayweather vs McGregor Live: Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor Is the Kind of Circus Matchup That Only Boxing Allows;” Mayweather vs Mcgregor Fight Live Online Stream;” “Explanation of Confirming Mayweather vs Mcgregor Live Fight;” “How to Watch Mayweather vs Mcgregor Live Stream To Online Any Place;” “Mayweather vs Mcgregor Live Boxing Tickets Online;” and “Floyd Mayweather vs Mcgregor Live Fight Streaming Online.”
We wouldn’t advise anyone to participate in viewing the unauthorized streaming of the fight. A court might find you in violation of the US Copyright Act, with damages ranging anywhere from $750 up to $150,000 plus attorneys fees.
The Showtime Lawsuit Seeks to Protect Mayweather – McGregor Fight Profits
The lawsuit states:
Consumers in the United States will be able to purchase pay-per-view access to the Coverage from Showtime and its licensed distributors (the “Licensed Distributor(s)”), which Coverage will commence at approximately 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time on August 26, 2017, with three undercard bouts and then the Fight itself, continuing until the Fight’s conclusion. Consumers in the United States can purchase such access to the Coverage from a Licensed Distributor for a retail price in the range of $89.95-$99.99.
An article published on June 28, 2017, on the Forbes website noted that the Fight “will redefine the term profitable sporting event on August 26 when it breaks all of [Mayweather’s] previous financial records for a single bout – the uberlucrative fight with Manny Pacquiao included.” (Bold added)
Showtime Seeking TRO, Monetary Damages For Copyright Infringement
The lawsuit alleges that LiveStreamHDQ has set up three separate websites containing the words “Mayweather” and “McGregor” in the website address (collectively “LiveStreamHDQ Websites”), including:
Showtime is trying to put a stop to it NOW, to protect its revenue stream and customer relationships.
The Showtime lawsuit alleges that Defendants are using search engine optimization techniques to draw in potential viewers to their unauthorized streaming of the Mayweather-McGregor fight:
[The home page of <Mayweathervsmcgregor.livestreamhdq.com> states “Watch From Here Mayweather vs Mcgregor Live with 4k Display.” In addition to including this statement on the home page, LiveStreamHDQ has also optimized the content of that website by stuffing it with keywords related to the Fight, including a title that reads “WELCOME TO VISIT FOR MAYWEATHER VS MCGREGOR WEBSITE”
It also lists over 40 websites that advertises and promotes an unauthorized live stream of the Fight. The reason it believes the unauthorized streaming violates the US Copyright Act, Showtime alleges, is as follows:
In distributing the Coverage and/or aiding the distribution of the Coverage through unauthorized channels, Defendants will unlawfully usurp exclusive benefits belonging to Plaintiff under the Copyright Act, including the exclusive rights of reproduction, public performance and distribution, among other rights
Anticipated Copyright Infringement Alleged in Mayweather-McGregor Unauthorized Streaming Site
As copyright defense attorneys, we usually defend people accused of past conduct amounting to copyright infringement. That past conduct usually involves past conduct online using peer-to-peer file sharing software called BitTorrent.
But the Showtime litigation alleges anticipated copyright infringement, and for a performance which has not yet occurred. How can they have any copyright protection, you may ask, for something that cannot have a copyright yet, since it has not yet been performed? The answer appears to be in the statute itself:
As long as Showtime Networks, Inc. properly files for copyright registration within three months after its first transmission.
They better not forget!
According to the lawsuit, Showtime served Defendants with an Advance Notice of Potential Infringement pursuant to 37 C.F.R. § 201.22 on August 11, 2017. According to the statute, 37 C.F.R. § 201.22 provides:
An Advance Notice of Potential Infringement is a notice which, if served in accordance with section 411(c) of title 17 of the United States Code, and in accordance with the provisions of this section, enables a copyright owner to institute an action for copyright infringement either before or after the first fixation of a work consisting of sounds, images, or both that is first fixed simultaneously with its transmission, and to enjoy the full remedies of said title 17 for copyright infringement, provided registration for the work is made within three months after its first transmission.
We look forward to seeing the future activity of this interesting lawsuit. It should prove interesting!
The case is Showtime Networks Inc. v. John Doe 1 et al 2:17-cv-06041-AB-KS in the Central District of California federal court.
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“Torrent Wars” Article by Jeffrey Antonelli Published by ISBA
What’s In a Settlement Agreement? Confidentiality Clauses & No Admission of Guilt – Antonelli Law