This weekend, the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. will go head-to-head with UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The fight is not just about prestige, but also about money. Some predict that the unusual matchup could pull in a staggering one billion dollars.
A significant portion of this will go to each of the fighters, but rightsholders such as Showtime benefit as well.
People who want to stream the event live over the Internet will have to cough up between $89.95 and $99.99. This will generate millions of dollars in revenue but the numbers would be even higher if it wasn’t so easy to stream the fight through pirate sites.
This is why Showtime took some of the most brazen pirate sites to court last week, demanding an injunction to stop the pirated streams before they even start. In its complaint, the cable TV provider listed 44 domain names which advertise the fight, urging the court to shut them down pre-emptively.
After reviewing the application, United States District Judge André Birotte Jr. approved the preliminary injunction, which forbids the site’s operators from offering infringing streams. The injunction stays in place until August 28, two days after the event.
While the order is a clear win for Showtime, it’s unclear how effective it will be. The sites in question are all believed to be connected to LiveStreamHDQ and its alleged operator “Kopa Mayweather,” who Showtime have battled before.
At the time of writing, the sites are all still online, although the language appears to have changed. Many now have articles explaining how the fight can be watched legally. Whether it remains that way has to be seen.
Interestingly, the injunction doesn’t mention any domain name registrars or registries. When Showtime applied for similar measures in the past, the company specifically asked to take control of domain names, so these couldn’t be used for any infringing activity.
That said, the current order applies to the defendants and any others who are “in active concert or participation” with them, so this might be enough for domain registrars and other parties to take appropriate action.
Showtime also has the possibility to request updates to the injunction, if needed, but with only a few days to go this has to happen swiftly.
As mentioned earlier, this is not the first time that Showtime has gone after alleged pirates before they get a chance to commit an offense. The company launched similar cases for the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao and Mayweather vs. Berto matchups in 2015.
While these efforts were successful in taking a few pirate sites down, there were plenty of unauthorized streams available when the events started. This time it’s not likely to be any different. With hundreds of live streaming sites and tools out there, piracy will remain undefeated.
A copy of the preliminary injunction is available here (pdf).