A few weeks ago, Lorenzo Fertitta testified in front of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee asking legislators to pass stricter internet piracy laws. According to Fertitta, there were 271 unauthorized streams of UFC 106 being watched by over 140,000 people. Whether or not his message among others convinced lawmakers to do anything about is unknown, but it appears the UFC isn’t going to wait around to see if they do.
The UFC claims they’re taking matters into their own hands by suing websites who stream illegal feeds of their pay-per-views and the individuals who watch them.
Lawrence Epstein, the UFC’s general legal counsel, said the company could subpoena websites that carry illegal content for the IP addresses and user information of people who watch and download UFC fights, though he declined to say when that would happen.
“We’re looking at all of our legal options, and I wouldn’t rule out anything when it comes to fighting this problem,” Epstein said.
White said the UFC’s anti-piracy team monitors illegal streams during events and aggressively pursues offending websites, though he admitted suing websites and individuals would be a costly effort.
“[Piracy] hasn’t cost us anything compared to what it’s going to cost us to go after these guys,” White said. “It’s gonna cost us a lot of money, but guess what — it’s gonna cost them a lot of money. It’s gonna get to the point where it’s like, you know what, [expletive] it, maybe we shouldn’t pirate MMA any more.”
Not every UFC employee believes its the right move though. UFC color commentator Joe Rogan doesn’t think piracy is necessarily a bad thing.
“I think that kind of stifles innovation,” Rogan said. “It stifles the direction the Internet is going. I like things being out there. I think people are always going to buy UFC pay-per-views. You’re going to get a much better experience watching it on your television than all stretched out looking fuzzy and pixilated.
“They’re trying to protect their money, but the Internet is a strange animal.”
It will be interesting to see how far the UFC actually takes this. Going after the websites that stream their content is one thing, but pursuing all the individuals who view it would be quite the undertaking. If the music and movie industries ongoing fight against piracy is any indication, it will be a long drawn out war they’re about to wage.