A Plea for Sanity: UFC Seriously Needs to Lighten Up on Piracy

It’s became a growing trend over the past few years, as more and more households are fitted with high-speed internet connections and the technological savvy youth continue find new sources to view live sporting online, streaming is becoming and bigger problem by the day.

To put it simply, if you are viewing a UFC stream that you haven’t purchased from their website you are breaking the law.

While the popularity of internet streaming is on the rise, the UFCs pay-per-view numbers have been on a steady decline so it is easy to point a finger in the direction of those spending their Saturday evenings plastered in front of a choppy stream for three-hours.

However, at the same time UFC has had some of their biggest pay-per-view main events fall through at the last minute losing millions of potential pay-per-view revenue dollars with the loss of George St-Pierre vs. Carlos Condit for instance.

250,000 buys is an average number for the organization and as they continue to increase their schedule with more events, both paid and free across their three platforms on the FOX network it’s never been easier to watch mixed martial arts action.

While there are obvious benefits to having a Zuffa, LLC event on almost every Saturday night of the calendar year it also makes it easier to skip a pay-per-view which has a lesser known entity as the key promoted fight and hold off for the bigger named grudge-match next month.

In recent times the UFC have done their part in cracking down on digital pirates targeting popular hosting sites Justin.tv and Ustream but this week they upped the ante with their attack on greenfeedz.com.

The reason this one is different than any other media crackdown is because Zuffa, LLC also obtained the websites user database giving them a string of information including IP addresses, E-Mail addresses, screen names and even home addresses for some users.

In simple terms, if you have signed up for greenfeedz.com and have viewed a UFC then it’s time for you to fake your death, jump on a plane and head straight for Mexico City.

But in all seriousness, this is likely a scare tactic to make your average Joe computer user think twice before pirating Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans or any other event in the future.

Bit-torrent news and information blog TorrentFreak.com did some research into the issue speaking with First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza about the issue.

“I have a very hard time finding a theory of liability for someone who merely watched an illegal broadcast. That’s like saying if a bar was illegally publicly presenting a movie or an NFL game, that everyone in the bar would be liable,” Randazza told TorrentFreak.

“My guess is that the UFC’s attorneys will not really go after people who merely watched the fights. They may, however, use the data they gather in order to find out if any of those people were re-distributing it,” Randazza adds.

Randazza questions the legitimacy of their claim and if Zuffa carried through with their threat he would be in support of the defendant.

“If they’re really going after people for merely watching an illegal stream, I’d defend that case free of charge,” Randazza told TorrentFreak. “That’s not the right thing to do.”

The fight industry aren’t the first to try to stop distribution of their product, the movie and music industries have been at the forefront of efforts to stop piracy beginning with Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) suing online file-sharing organization Napster in the late-nineties.

Despite their best efforts to halt file sharing the industry has done nothing but explode, especially with the usability and education of bit-torrent software amongst youth the online sharing of music, movies and software has never been bigger.

Maybe the answer isn’t to stop online streaming but to embrace it? Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean allowing everyone to watch their content for free but to allow users to watch their content online for a cheaper fee.

Currently you can purchase a pay-per-view from UFC.tv for $44.95 just the same as any other cable television user who purchased the event on their television.

Streaming from the website comes with several perks including corner cameras but also comes with chances of having slow, laggy or choppy streams and even chances of the feed cutting out so why would you bother buying the online feed?

There are hundreds of users that wouldn’t cough up a fee for the event if it were only $2 but at the same time there are plenty more who would spend $25 for example on a B-level pay-per-view that they would’ve skipped otherwise.

One half of the UFC’s A-team commentary booth Joe Rogan has famously stated “you can’t stop the internet” and he’s absolutely right – It’s time for the UFC, RIAA and the rest of the world to embrace the new age of piracy instead of swimming upstream against a strong tide.


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