Since the start of this year, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) have been warning that they are prepared for a very tough fight indeed – and one in which they hope to knockout Internet piracy of their PPV events.
After shutting down Rage-Streams.net earlier this year, the UFC implied they would start going after those that consume streams too, an unlikely scenario and one that has failed to bear fruit thus far. But there are still plenty of providers – uploaders – and on them, UFC President Dana White made his position clear.
“We are committed to standing toe-to-toe with anyone trying to illegally broadcast or stream UFC events,” said the UFC mouthpiece earlier this month when noting that the company had reached 500 settlements with infringers in 2 years.
Earlier, UFC general legal counsel Lawrence Epstein warned that the mixed-martial arts outfit might even subpoena sites in order to gain the IP-addresses of people who were illegally uploading UFC events. The company has now made good on its threats.
UFC parent company Zuffa, which claims to be the largest provider of Pay-Per-View content in the world, just announced that it has subpoenaed two hugely popular streaming video sites, Justin.tv and Ustream.tv. With this legal action they hope to force the companies to reveal the identity of a user who uploaded two UFC events earlier this year.
The UFC say that on January 2, 2010, more than 36,000 people watched an illegal streaming video feed of UFC 108 which was being uploaded from a single IP address. On February 21, 2010, the very same IP address uploaded UFC 110 which was viewed by a claimed 78,000 individuals.
“I can’t wait to go after the thieves that are stealing our content,” said White. “This is a fight we will not lose.”
Zuffa say that once Justin.tv and Ustream.tv hand over the identity of the uploader, they will take civil copyright action against them.
MMA fans gave the news a mixed reception, with some noting that being a fan isn’t a right and ‘stealing’ events is simply wrong. Others felt that accepting a level of piracy is a good way to get more exposure.
“The UFC has had 15 pay-per-view event in the past year. Zuffa LLC is making a killing on PPVs and frustrating fans who simply cannot afford them. Hence, the piracy problem,” wrote a contributor to MMA blog, MMAJunkie.
“MMA is approaching a saturation point and won’t be able reach the next plateau of popularity until live UFC shows are easily accessible to the average viewer. You can’t fight the Internet – even if you are in the right. The UFC needs to adapt and evolve in the way it delivers content to the consumer and take a short-term loss for a long-term gain.”
In 2009, the UFC banked $350 million in PPV revenue.