UFC Pirate Apologizes & Settles Following $32m Lawsuit

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A man hit with a $32 million lawsuit after releasing an estimated 200 hours of UFC PPV events on torrent sites has settled his case with UFC owner, Zuffa. On top of a permanent injunction Steven Messina, known online as Secludedly, publicly apologized to the UFC and will hand over all of this equipment and website data.

ufcAccording to fans around the world, MMA is the fastest growing sport, bar none. The planet’s premier MMA production company is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, more often known as simply UFC.

In addition to events broadcast on regular TV, each month the UFC puts on special PPV cards. These cards attract a lot of attention and are a major money spinner for the martial arts organization. However, there are thousands of fans out there who prefer not to pay to view. For them, torrent sites are the answer.

Until the first few months of this year one of the most prolific releasers of UFC content was an individual known online as Secludedly. However, during April his activities came to an abrupt halt after he was targeted in a $32 million lawsuit filed by UFC parent company, Zuffa.

Secludedly was soon revealed to be Steven A. Messina, a 27-year-old from Staten Island, New York.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t understand the laws and all that around this type of thing, so I’m a little lost here and overwhelmed,” Messina told TorrentFreak at the time. “I don’t even know what is going on. I think people on the Internet know more than me.”

With a default judgment looming TorrentFreak further interviewed Messina who told us that he’d decided to launch a funding campaign to defend himself against Zuffa. He raised a few hundred dollars, nowhere near enough to take on the multi-billion valued company.

Then the inevitable happened. On June 4, 2014, a default judgment was entered against Messina and his fight with the UFC was over. The question now was how badly they’d choose to beat him up financially after the final bell.

All went quiet until early September when Zuffa filed for a permanent injunction to stop Messina pirating UFC content in the future. Behind the scenes the UFC and their arch-enemy had settled their case, with the only public record being the injunction jointly signed by the martial arts organization and Messina.

As can be seen from the excerpt from the injunction below, the UFC are keen to learn from Messina’s operation, and that means collecting all data they can from the New Yorker.

“This Court hereby enters an injunction requiring Defendant, Steven A Messina, to turn over to the plaintiff, Zuffa..[..].. any readily available information, processes, records accounts, bills received for the purchase of any UFC event, user profile names and identifications, domains utilized by Defendant and any user information for any website or computer used by, owned or controlled by Defendant that was used or assisted in the unauthorized access, streaming, copyright, uploading, downloading, distributing or public performance of any UFC event, including, but not limited to, the events that are the subject of the instant litigation,” the injunction reads.

Also of interest to Zuffa is the equipment used by Messina to pirate their content. The injunction cites a 2013 TorrentFreak article in which Messina explained how he captured super-smooth video. All equipment related to that must be surrendered to Zuffa including various pieces of software, scripts and storage devices.

In addition to restraining Messina from future piracy acts, the UFC are also allowed to check up on him to ensure compliance.

“Plaintiff shall be entitled to conduct all discovery permitted under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for the period of six (6) months from the date of the filing of this stipulation for the purpose of monitoring Defendant’s compliance with the terms of this permanent injunction,” the injunction reads.

There is no mention of a cash settlement and even if there was one it wouldn’t amount to much, certainly not $32 million. However, to act as a deterrent, the UFC has had Messina come out in public to both apologize and warn others away from the perils of piracy.

“I apologize to the UFC for any damages incurred as a result of my actions in illegally distributing copyrighted UFC broadcasts. As a result of my confession for piracy of UFC’s protected content, I fully accept the terms of the settlement with the UFC,” Messina said.

“I now realize the harm caused by my actions. It is my hope that I can use this difficult period as a learning experience as I move on with my life. I would also like to tell anyone pirating UFC broadcasts, either through illegal downloading or non-authorized streaming, that it is illegal and not worth the risk.”

Kirk Hendrick, UFC’s Chief Legal Officer, said the MMA organization was satisfied with the result.

“The UFC organization is pleased with the outcome of this case and Messina’s willingness to assist the UFC’s efforts in protecting our intellectual property and broadcasts. With Messina’s apology and understanding, the UFC organization will learn more to help us continue uncovering illegal distribution of our content.”

But while Messina may have been brought under control, the lawsuit against him has done nothing to stop content appearing online. Following last weekend’s Jacare vs Mousasi card, no less than five separate release groups uploaded the event online.

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