Sky wins damages against six Parker fight pirates

Pay TV broadcaster only sought nominal damages but its partner Duco says it will drop the hammer if offending continues.

Sky TV has won a District Court judgment against seven people who streamed the Parker vs Haumono fight, staged by Duco Events in July.

Judge Sharp ruled that each defendant had infringed Sky's copyright. and granted an injunction restraining any further infringement of the copyrighted work and that each defendant must delete and/or destroy any copies held, including from Facebook.

Each must pay nominal damages of $100 as well as costs of $2670 (the amount sought by Sky).

Sky and Duco filed seven more cases after October's Parker-Dimitrenko bout (the first seven cases were handled in one hearing in Auckland on Wednesday but the remaining seven are expected to be heard individually around the country, including Christchurch).

Drop the hammer
Earlier, Duco chief executive Martin Snedden told NBR that although only nominal damages had been sought in the first wave of legal action, it was likely his company, acting in cooperation with Sky, would drop the hammer if offending continued.

"It's about raising awareness. We’re not about killing anyone financially, he said, "though if it happens again, we’ll have to think about that.” It's likely Sky and Duco will seek more than nominal damages if offending continues. Lowndes Jordon partner Rick Shera says damages sought could be high. If 10,000 people watched a defendant's illegal stream of a $50 pay-per-view fight over Facebook, Sky could use $500,000 as a starting point — although if it won, damages would likely be less as the judge would have to consider how many of the stream viewers could have been reasonably expected to pay for the event.

This morning, Sky chief executive John Fellet said, "It’s a good result to have this unlawful behaviour confirmed by the courts. We have more claims in the judicial system that we await further positive results from in the coming weeks. We believe that piracy is theft of copyright.  We will continue to work hard to protect Sky investments in all kind of content."

Carrot and stick
Sky has offered some carrot along with the stick, lowering pay-per-view pricing by $10 and putting pay-per-view bouts on its no-contract Fanpass service for the first time.

"If you don’t have Sky, just purchase from Fan Pass or go to a venue that is showing the fight – there are plenty of legal options," Mr Fellet says (although in NBR comments, some have complained about a cost of up to $2000 for a pub or sports bar to screen the event; Sky won't comment on its pricing).

Hit squad
Sky and Duco were caught on the hop in May when a Porirua man used his smartphone to stream the Parker-Takam fight via Facebook's new Live video feature.

But by the time of the Parker-Haumono fight in July, Sky and Duco had formed a 13-person hit squad to monitor social media. Crucially, they also won the cooperation of Facebook, with the social media giant helping them to identify alleged offenders within minutes.

Mr Snedden says “We have a larger team than ever working this weekend to find anyone unlawfully streaming Parker vs Ruiz."

More grief to come
Although it’s got all the attention, Facebook Live is just one of many livestreaming services on offer. Others include Twitter, which recently acquired Periscope – the bane of live sport promoters' lives in the US. There are so more many moles to whack.

“It’s a work in progress. We’re not kidding ourselves. There are some very clever people out there,” Mr Snedden says.

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