Businesses that illegally showed the welterweight unification bout last month between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao could be hearing from attorneys soon and be subject to heavy fines, USA Today reports.
J&J Sports Productions, a California-based company which handles a substantial portion of pay-per-view distribution in the United States, says it paid $7 million for the commercial licensing rights for the pay-per-view broadcast and employed more than 1,500 private investigators to seek out establishments that showed the fight without paying the thousands of dollars it usually costs for a licensing fee.
The fight, won by Mayweather via unanimous decision, broke pay-per-view and live gate records and generated more than $600 million in revenue. Pay-per-view customers at home paid upwards of $99.95 to view the fight, while licenses can cost business as much as $7,000.
“We have to catch as many as we can to protect the people who pay,” J&J owner Joe Gagliardi told USA Today.
Gagliardi says 4,000 licenses were sold for the fight and more than 1,000 pirated broadcasts were found by investigators.
The Interception of Radio Communications Act and the Unauthorized Reception of Cable Service Act calls for violators to pay up to a $100,000 fine and spend five years in prison, if found to have showed the bout without having the proper commercial license.
Attorney Matthew Pare says J&J usually doesn’t accept anything less than $10,000 for a licensing fee and likens the company’s attempts at collecting money to extortion.
“They like to describe it as policing or enforcing,” Pare said. “But it goes way, way beyond that. What they’re trying to do is almost extort money."
Gagliardi disputes that claim, saying most of the money collect ends up with attorneys and adds that it takes years for cases to get settled, with most pirates never caught.
- Scooby Axson