The match between boxers Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao hasn’t even begun, and yet, Showtime Networks, HBO and the boxers’ promotional outfits have filed a joint lawsuit that demands significant relief from alleged copyright infringement.
On Tuesday, the pay networks threw their punches in California federal court against “John Doe 1 d/b/a boxinghd.net,” “John Doe 2 d/b/a sportship.org” and seven other anonymous defendants.
After investing tens of millions of dollars in the highly-anticipated fight that will be available to consumers on Saturday for $89 to $100, Showtime and HBO are attacking a couple of websites which are said to be advertising “an unauthorized live Internet stream of the coverage in California and elsewhere.”
The lawsuit points out that boxinghd.net has a page that is titled “Watch Mayweather vs. Pacquiao Online Free,” and users that click are eventually taken to a splash page with a countdown clock and an image of Mayweather and Pacquiao.
“In sum, the only content on Defendants’ websites promotes and/or monetizes their intention to infringe Plaintiffs’ rights by streaming the Coverage without authorization,” states the lawsuit. “Plaintiffs are informed and believe that Defendants are on actual notice of Plaintiffs’ rights but nevertheless intend to proceed with their unauthorized and infringing live stream of the Coverage.”
False advertising? Understandable. Misappropriation of publicity rights? Maybe. But those aren’t the claims being made. Instead, the plaintiffs are claiming direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. Here’s where the lawsuit becomes provocative.
Certainly in the past, large concert promotion companies and the WWE have brought lawsuits against John Does in advance of a large event. Those lawsuits, though, have typically involved trademark claims, but more importantly, have sought a slightly different form of relief. Last year, for instance, on the verge of Wrestlemania, the professional wrestling league wanted the power to seize bootleg goods that appeared around the Superdome in New Orleans once they showed up.
In this case, Showtime and HBO are not only asking for a restraining order against those directly involved in “anticipated” copyright infringement, they’re asking for a judge to order other service providers — “including all registrars, hosts, name servers, site acceleration providers, providers of video delivery resources, and providers of computer and network resources through which video transits” — from enabling and facilitating the John Does.
And it doesn’t stop there. The plaintiffs want to be awarded actual damages, profits and statutory damages — and even want the court to award them the costs of bringing the lawsuit and conducting the investigation. Again, for something that hasn’t yet happened.
No word on who will be winning the fight, but here’s the complaint.