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Clients in the News


Gardere Attorney Robert Miller quoted in the Dallas Business Journal article
Programmers get tough on pay-per-view pirates
September 13, 2012 11:59 pm

Dallas Business Journal:

Pay-per-view providers of mixed martial arts bouts, boxing matches and other events increasingly have been suing bars, restaurants and hotels on grounds that they haven't obtained proper permission for televising the events in their venues.

Cases of this type filed against proprietors in North Texas jumped to 78 last year, compared to 21 the year before and only one in 2009, according to an Androvett Legal Media & Marketing analysis of case filings in U.S. District Court in Dallas.

According to a national analysis of federal lawsuits, 660 suits against businesses were filed by pay-per-view providers nationwide in 2009. The number had jumped to 1,612 cases nationally by 2011.

It's important for food service operators and proprietors to recognize that they need to obtain express written permission from MMA and other pay-per-view program owners before showing these programs, said Bob Miller, a partner at Dallas law firm Gardere Wynne Sewell, where he heads the telecommunications practice group. Miller represents programmers in negotiating licensing agreements.

Gardere Attorney Robert Miller in Dallas Business Journal article

I talked with Miller recently and asked why cases of this type are on the rise. He thinks it's because proprietors are trying to cash in on the surging popularity of MMA at the same time as owners of the programming are becoming more vigilant in protecting their rights.

"With technology being as easy to install and easy to use as it is, it becomes relatively inexpensive for a bar or tavern to get this programming (illegally) and hope they don't get caught," Miller said. "By the same token, the MMA owners and others are saying 'We're not going to put up with this.'"


Miller offered these tips to keep proprietors out of trouble:

  • Avoid showing any programming without proper authorization.
  • When you show programming, request backup documentation authorizing its display. Review or have your lawyer review the paperwork to make sure it provides the necessary rights to show the program. If documentation is not made available, don't show the event.
  • Make sure you understand the terms and conditions in the contract for showing the program. The contracts typically include several provisions that could directly affect your bottom line, such as how much you have to pay the program owner for the right to show the event, when and how often you can show it, whether you can record the event for repeated showings and how you can promote showing the event.

2012 American City Business Journals.

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