Most of you probably didn’t catch this yesterday, but YouTube shut down the official Gracie Academy channel due to copyright claims from 20th Century Fox for using licensed music in their videos and Zuffa for including brief UFC fight clips in Rener and Ryron’s Gracie breakdown videos.
When contacted by MMA Junkie, Rener Gracie told reporter Steve Marrocco that he had no idea they were doing anything wrong and thought the short clips fell under the “fair use” provision in US Copyright Law.
“I was under the impression that it was OK and not a problem,” Gracie said. “If I knew it was a problem with them, I would have never done it. I would have just shown clean breakdowns with nothing in it.”
What separates this situation from fans who upload UFC highlight reels to YouTube is the Gracie’s were also using these videos to promote the Gracie Academy and their products. There’s nothing wrong with that in of itself, but clearly the UFC had a problem with the Gracie’s using their copyrighted footage in doing so. Dana White explained why this particular instance struck a chord with them.
“We just did a documentary called ‘Ultimate Royce Gracie,’ and we paid a lot of money to license that footage from Rorion,” White said. “And he was very aggressive and very stern in how he wanted his footage to be used. ‘You can show it X amount of times, and then you owe me more money. And if you do this, you owe me money for that, too.’ Their father does the same exact thing with his footage of the Gracies.
“When you look at what’s going on with Justin.tv and all these other sites, the responsible sites like a YouTube go through and police what’s on their website. They’re not going to let people go in there and infringe. It’s not the UFC calling up and going, ‘[Expletive] the Gracies. Pull that [expletive] down.'”
Dana added that he planned to get in touch with Rener to work the situation out, and it seems they’ve done so since the channel has since been reinstated. I’m not sure what kind of an agreement they came to, but as MMA Payout pointed out, this presents an excellent opportunity for the UFC to partner with the Gracie’s to leverage their channel to educate the masses.
I’ll take that one step further and say what the UFC should do is outright hire Rener and Ryron Gracie to produce official UFC breakdowns of the underappreciated art of jiu-jitsu following each event. Jiu-jitsu is the least understood aspect of MMA, especially among the casuals who have traditionally booed whenever a grappling match broke out in the Octagon, and who better to teach those fans than members of Gracie family in the target demographic? Rener and Ryron not only do incredible jobs at breaking down the techniques the fighters used the night before, their infectious personalities also make it extremely entertaining. It would give the UFC an opportunity to embrace their Gracie lineage and educate their fans in a fun and informative manner, plus it would give the Gracie’s a bigger platform to spread their word and attract new students to their academies.
Sounds like a win-win to me.