UPDATED, 7:40 PM: With just two days to go before the big fight, the premium cablers got the decision they were seeking to make sure the lucrative boxing match doesn’t get streamed for free. “This temporary restraining order is issued and effective as of 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time on April 30, 2015 and will expire at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time on May 7, 2015,” said Judge George Wu today (read it here). That means if you want to watch Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao battle it out this weekend you are going to have buy a PPV-price-busting $89-$100 from either HBO or Showtime.
The order by the federal judge firmly grants HBO and Showtime’s May 2 hugely anticipated match between the two champions the protection they initially sought on April 28. Even though boxinghd.net and sportship.org took down their offer of free streaming of the Las Vegas fight yesterday, the premium cablers wanted the courts to play ref so there would be no opportunity for the sites or others suddenly whipping up a link on Saturday. Even though the big-bucks fight will be long over, there will be a hearing on May 7 for the preliminary injunction HBO and Showtime also desire.
“Plaintiffs have established that they will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of immediate relief,” Wu added today in granting the TRO. “Among other things, Defendants’ threatened infringement would strip Plaintiffs of the critical right of first transmission and publication of an extremely valuable live sporting event, would interfere with Plaintiffs’ relationships with third parties, is likely to damage Plaintiffs’ goodwill among consumers, and will deprive Plaintiffs of revenue that will be difficult or impossible to calculate, but is likely far in excess of any amount that Defendants could repay to Plaintiffs in damages even if the amount could be calculated.”
With their pre-emptive legal action, the cablers gave piracy one on the jaw with this one.
PREVIOUS APRIL 29 PM: It wasn’t quite Mike-Tyson-back-in-the-day fast but the premium cablers saw opponents drop pretty quickly in their battle to preserve control over what could be the most lucrative PPV boxing match ever. Both boxinghd.net and sportship.org have removed online offers of free streaming of the pricey May 2 battle between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao. This comes just one day after HBO and Showtime filed a preemptive infringement complaint against two sites over the fight, which has been priced at between $89 and $100 on pay-per-view.
Where there was a big splashy photo of the two boxers yesterday and a “click here” to watch the weekend fight, now there is pretty much nothing. Lawyers for the cable networks and fellow plaintiffs Mayweather Promotions LLC and promoters Top Rank Inc. noted that by 10:30 this morning, most content on <boxinghd.net> appears to have been removed. <Sportship.org> only displays “what appears to be a file directory,” said attorney Dennis L. Wilson of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP in documents filed in federal court Wednesday. (read it here).
“First and foremost, these unilateral changes are compelling evidence that Defendants have received Plaintiffs’ Advance Notice of Potential Infringement and other communications,” the documents read. “The changes also confirm that Defendants know the live stream they have been promoting will infringe Plaintiffs’ rights.”
Though the free steam offer for the PPV fight appears to be gone, HBO, Showtime and the other plaintiffs still want a court order formally shutting them down before Saturday’s event in Las Vegas.
“If the Court does not grant Plaintiffs’ requested restraining order, nothing will stop Defendants from ‘flipping the switch’ on Saturday and proceeding with their planned infringement,” said today’s status update to federal District Judge George H. Wu. “The removal of content from the two sites also confirms that Plaintiffs’ requested restraining order will not harm Defendants in any way.”
So will Judge Wu step in the ring and play ref on this one? Stay tuned.