The Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight has broken yet another record: 1,100 pirated broadcasts, allegedly stolen by restaurants, bars and other commercial establishments that are about to hear from attorneys demanding payment.
J&J Sports Productions, which paid $7 million for the commercial licensing rights for the fight’s pay-per-view broadcast, employed more than 1,500 private investigators across the country on fight night, company owner Joe Gagliardi said. The assignment: find establishments showing the fight without having paid for a licensing fee.
“We have to catch as many as we can to protect the people who pay,’’ Gagliardi told USA TODAY Sports.
The licensing fee typically ranges from $3,000 to $7,000, depending on the size of the business and the market, Gagliardi said. His figures — gleaned from a recent report, he said —indicate that a good percentage of businesses stole the broadcast signal.
It is a federal offense that carries a fine of up to $100,000 and five years in prison.
Gagliardi said about 4,000 licenses were sold compared to the more than 1,000 pirated broadcasts documented by the private investigators. (By comparison, the fight generated 4.5 million “retail’’ pay-per-view buys at $99.95 apiece.) Prior to the June 2 Mayweather-Pacquaio fight, there had never been 800 pirated broadcasts, according to Gagliardi, who said he expected the problem to be worse.
He noted an unusually high volume of sales by mom-and-pop establishments in the Midwest and rural South and said, “Maybe a lot of piracy got limited because people bought the event.’’
Attorney Matthew Pare, who has defended establishments against J&J, said the company rarely accepts anything less than $10,000 and said the company’s aggressive stand amounted to extortion.
He said one of his clients — a Filipino beauty parlor in Southern California that showed a 2008 Pacquiao fight with no more than five customers in the shop — faces a $32,000 demand.
“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.’’
But Gagliardi suggests much of the money ends up in attorneys’ pockets, that collecting the money in some cases takes several years and the real villains are the commercial pirates who didn’t pay a dime — and didn’t get caught.
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