There is a case pending in federal court, Zuffa v. Thomas, that has some interesting copyright infringement implications as well as some interesting “can you file a lawsuit when you are really not sure exactly what your claim is?” issues. Bonus fun: Zuffa, the plaintiff, is the company that owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
UFC apparently has spies that go around and make sure people are not rebroadcasting its fights to large groups. So one of their spies found that the Hotel Charles in southern Maryland was broadcasting the fight to 123 people without purchasing a license to do so.
Both parties have filed motions for summary judgment and they have both been denied. But the judge clearly is concerned that Plaintiff has not yet offered prima facie evidence of a copyright infringement. UFC complains that defendants have not responded to discovery so they don’t have the details straight of exactly how they got the fight in the first place. Moreover, they are arguing let’s just put two and two together – there is evidence they played the fight and no evidence that they got it legally so a reasonable jury could only conclude that it infringed on their copyright. I’m inclined to agree with UFC on this premise: if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck…
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. What is amazing to me is how little media attention this lawsuit has gotten.