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Old 03-20-2012, 12:19 PM
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Default Suing Fans Isn't Way to Combat Internet Piracy, or to Turn Freeloaders Into Customers

Another great article by Ben Fowlkes from MMAFighting.com:

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Mar 19, 2012 - From the UFCís perspective, internet piracy is a pretty straightforward issue. Websites that illegally stream UFC pay-per-view events are criminals, and individuals who watch those streams are their accomplices. The UFC has said it will aggressively pursue legal remedies against both, and now that the worldís foremost MMA organization has obtained user information from Greenfeedz.com -- a streaming website that was recently shut down -- it says that it intends to do just that.

"We believe that we've got an obligation to go out there and try to protect the intellectual property and protect both our rights and the rights of our fighter-partners," UFC chief legal counsel Lawrence Epstein told MMAjunkie.com last week.

Translation: If you watched UFC pay-per-views on Greenfeedz.com, prepare to get sued for, in the words of one attorney representing the UFC in this case, "significantly more" than the cost of a pay-per-view.

What such a strategy might ultimately cost the UFC and its parent company Zuffa, however, seems to be a question that the MMA giant hasnít fully considered.

To hear the UFCís Epstein tell it, suits against those who illegally streamed UFC events wouldnít technically be suits against the organizationís own fans because "people that steal our stuff Ė they're not our fans." Except that they are, or else they probably wouldnít be sitting in front of a laptop on a Saturday night watching a UFC event, whether they paid for it or not.

When Epstein says that those people arenít the UFCís fans, what he really means is, they arenít the fans the UFC wants. Thatís why the UFC feels just fine about threatening to sue those particular fans (though itís arguable whether that threat is a legitimate one), and also why it seems to think this would ultimately be good for the organization. It wouldnít, and there are a few different reasons why.

For starters, the UFC seems to believe that there are two types of MMA fans: the type who buys the pay-per-views, and the type who watches them illegally. In reality, the line between those two groups is probably a lot blurrier than Zuffa realizes. Chances are very good that some of the people who have streamed events in the past have also bought them, and probably will buy them again at some point in the future. Maybe they only pony up the $55 for the pay-per-view when the card is good enough, or when they can get friends to split the cost with them. Maybe they stream it when they only care about one or two fights, or when theyíre simply too strapped for cash to afford it.

My point is, not all piracy is created equal, at least on the receiving end, and attacking viewers as if they are distributors could do much more harm than good.

For instance, picture a 19-year-old college student just about anywhere in America. He wants to see a UFC event, but maybe he canít even afford basic cable, let alone a pay-per-view. He canít go to a bar to watch the fights (unless he has a convincing fake ID), so he stays home and finds an illegal stream on his laptop, because he can't stand to miss the big fight. Then, months later, he gets sued by the UFC.

Whatís going to happen when that kid graduates, goes to work, and finds a job that will allow him to enjoy luxury expenses like pay-per-views? You think heís going to become a loyal customer of the company that sued him back when he was struggling to buy books? You think heís going to buy a ticket to see a UFC event when it comes to his city? You think heís going to buy merchandise or watch free events or patronize the UFC in any way after that experience? Maybe. Or maybe heíll hold a little bit of a grudge. You know, for the rest of his natural life.

Thatís not to say that the UFC should give out pay-per-views as charity, or even look the other way while its events are pirated. As Epstein points out, UFC stars like Georges St-Pierre get a cut of pay-per-view proceeds, so it isnít just some faceless company thatís harmed by piracy -- it's also the guys who are actually bleeding for their cash. (Though, as a sidenote, if fans who watch illegal streams are stealing from GSP, and if the UFC sues those fans, does that mean GSP will get a cut of whatever restitution the UFC receives in court? Call me a cynic, but I donít see it going down that way.)

Still, thereís plenty of justification for going after the internet pirates themselves. They really are stealing from the UFC and from fighters like GSP, and the UFC should do what it can to stop them. But going after the individual viewers is not only a questionable PR move, itís also not a terribly cost-effective one.

The user information that Zuffa recovered from Greenfeedz alone was "voluminous," according to an attorney representing the company, and litigating against so many individual users who merely consumed illegally pirated material has proved to be a tough sell in court. Even if the UFC does win a judgment against some laptop jockeys who either couldnít or wouldnít ante up for the pay-per-view, will it see enough cash in return to make the legal fees and the PR headache worth it? Will the fighters who were supposedly robbed be better off for it?

Maybe the UFC wonít actually try it. Maybe it will be content to let word of the threat spread around the internet, and hope that the bluff alone will be enough to deter fans from turning to illegal streams. Maybe it will instead focus on going after the distributors of pirated content rather than the consumers, since without one there wouldn't be the other, and maybe it will even take a more active role in trying to turn those would-be stream-watchers into actual, paying customers.

In other words, maybe the UFC could stand to use a little more carrot and a little less stick when it comes to its online fanbase. Because, letís be honest, those people are fans. They are the people that UFC wants as its audience, both now and in the years to come. And while it might be possible to turn fans into enemies through the use of overzealous litigation, it's probably a lot harder to do it the other way around.
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Old 03-20-2012, 12:56 PM
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These guys are basically shoplifting. They arenít just stealing from the fighters; they are also stealing from the other fans, the ones who are paying for all this. When I was nineteen and broke and we wanted to watch MMA we would have a UFC party and all pitch in for the pay per view, or wait and rent the VHS. Being broke isnít an excuse to steal entertainment, and being a fan doesnít absolve them of anything IMAO.
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Old 03-20-2012, 01:38 PM
rearnakedchoke rearnakedchoke is offline
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worked for the music industry .. but i think there will always be pirates .. the ufc aren't the only ones getting ripped off, boxing, music, movies (that industry is huge), satelite tv ... not saying it is right, but i am saying it can't be stopped
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Old 03-20-2012, 02:45 PM
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This isn't going to happen, because it's already been established that watching streaming video isn't a violation of copyright law. However, providing a stream or actually downloading a copy of an event after the fact is.

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Originally Posted by PRShrek
When I was nineteen and broke and we wanted to watch MMA we would have a UFC party and all pitch in for the pay per view
In essence, this is no different than providing a stream of the event. If Zuffa could realistically enforce it, you better believe they would go after people to collect more money for having "UFC parties". That's exactly why bars have to pay thousands of dollars when they order a PPV.

Personally, I rarely watch streams because when I'm going to watch a UFC event on Saturday night it's already planned well in advance and I typically have people over and order it, go to a friends house, or go to a bar. The last time I streamed a fight was actually when Penn fought Diaz, and it was basically a last resort after ordering the fight online at UFC.com and being charged TWICE only to not have it work. At that point the event had started and I already had 6 people at my house and a bunch of food on the grill. If Dana wants to sue me or call me a "thief" for that, then so be it. I think I could make a good argument that the real thieves in this sport are the promoters like Dana who continuously take advantage of the athletes with under-compensation and heavily restrictive contracts that ultimately sign away a fighter's likeness rights for all eternity. Heck, these guys technically aren't even allowed to refer to themselves as a "UFC fighter" without express written consent from Zuffa.

Instead of using scare tactics and ugly language to describe a small number of people who ARE fans of the sport and DO spend money on it, maybe Dana should worry about making the most of this newly signed deal with FOX so the sport can continue to grow and hopefully move away from this over-saturation of overpriced PPV's. Dana has been saying for years that the UFC will be bigger than the NFL, but I don't know a single NFL fan who spends a thousand dollars a year just to watch their team's games on TV. Heck, you can get NFL Sunday Ticket and watch EVERY game for much less than half of that.
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Old 03-20-2012, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by rearnakedchoke View Post
worked for the music industry
No it didn't.
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Old 03-20-2012, 02:48 PM
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I agree with Mr. Fowlkes here. Although I don't defend the Pirates I think they should go after the Main Distributors instead of the viewers.

Or maybe the UFC can stop trying to outdo Boxing and Lower their Damn PPV price! I can afford to pay $65-70 for a Mayweather fight but not $54 for a UFC event you know why? Cause Floyd Fights once a year hell even if he fought 2 or 3 times. But the UFC has been putting out up to 3 PPV events a month!!! Thats Crazy!! How can they not expect people to stream their cards? My satellite bill is $135 without any PPV's. When you are a Hardcore fan like me it gets very expensive. And maybe its just me but it's not as easy as Dana puts it and says just get a couple of friends together and pitch in. I guess I dont like to ask my guest to fork out money and thats my fault but sometimes I just feel like watching the fights without everyone at my house LOL

So The easiest way to watch all this PPV's for me is... go to my local sports bar, pay a $5 admission fee, Drink some Shiner on Tap, Enjoy the View of the Beautiful Females and Watch the Fights with complete strangers.

Oh and listen to people having conversations next to you or behind you making such comments as..

"Tito is one of the Best Fighters ever just watch his going to Woop this Evans Fighter"

or my favorite

"Damn look at the size of that guy! His going to win the little guy stands no chance"

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Old 03-20-2012, 02:51 PM
rearnakedchoke rearnakedchoke is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J.B. View Post
No it didn't.
well, you are correct .. it didn't work, but they did bring light to the problem of pirating when napster first came out .. you are right, i still don't pay for music ...
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Old 03-20-2012, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by rearnakedchoke View Post
well, you are correct .. it didn't work, but they did bring light to the problem of pirating when napster first came out .. you are right, i still don't pay for music ...
As an independent musician and audio engineer for over a decade, I can honestly say that I could care less if people download music. The RIAA would like people to think the industry is bleeding money because of piracy, but the real reason the industry is bleeding money is because they keep throwing good money after bad and put more money into artists they can sell visually than artists who actually make decent music with some staying power. That's not the only problem in the music industry, but it's a big part of it. It's an industry that consists mostly of greedy scumbags.
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Old 03-20-2012, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by JavierDLC View Post
Or maybe the UFC can stop trying to outdo Boxing and Lower their Damn PPV price! I can afford to pay $65-70 for a Mayweather fight but not $54 for a UFC event you know why? Cause Floyd Fights once a year hell even if he fought 2 or 3 times. But the UFC has been putting out up to 3 PPV events a month!!! Thats Crazy!! How can they not expect people to stream their cards? My satellite bill is $135 without any PPV's. When you are a Hardcore fan like me it gets very expensive. And maybe its just me but it's not as easy as Dana puts it and says just get a couple of friends together and pitch in. I guess I dont like to ask my guest to fork out money and thats my fault but sometimes I just feel like watching the fights without everyone at my house LOL
Exactly. They are flooding the PPV market because they have too many guys on their roster after buying out all the major competition over the last 5 years. 90% of the guys are on the low end of the totem pole in terms of pay-scale, and fans barely know who half the guys they are paying $60 to watch are. If they can convince us to keep shelling out that kind of money just for the pleasure of watching a "UFC" event, eventually it won't matter WHO they actually put on the cards, and that's exactly what they want. They don't want "GSP", "Anderson Silva", "Brock Lesnar", or "Chael Sonnen" to be viewed as bigger than the brand name. They want total control of the herd, and they want us to accept what they sell us as "the best", simply because they said so. If another promotion actually gets in a position to compete with them, they buy the company out.

Why do you think Dana spends so much time bashing Floyd Mayweather? It's because he can't buy out the sport of boxing, and he can't stand the thought of there being a fighter in Vegas who makes that kind of money. He's afraid that eventually guys in his stable may catch on, and over the years they have started to.
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Old 03-20-2012, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J.B. View Post
Exactly. They are flooding the PPV market because they have too many guys on their roster after buying out all the major competition over the last 5 years. 90% of the guys are on the low end of the totem pole in terms of pay-scale, and fans barely know who half the guys they are paying $60 to watch are. If they can convince us to keep shelling out that kind of money just for the pleasure of watching a "UFC" event, eventually it won't matter WHO they actually put on the cards, and that's exactly what they want. They don't want "GSP", "Anderson Silva", "Brock Lesnar", or "Chael Sonnen" to be viewed as bigger than the brand name. They want total control of the herd, and they want us to accept what they sell us as "the best", simply because they said so. If another promotion actually gets in a position to compete with them, they buy the company out.

Why do you think Dana spends so much time bashing Floyd Mayweather? It's because he can't buy out the sport of boxing, and he can't stand the thought of there being a fighter in Vegas who makes that kind of money. He's afraid that eventually guys in his stable may catch on, and over the years they have started to.
I agree JB its just too much and expensive.

Things seem to be getting a lil better at least this year with all the UFC on FX, Fuel TV and FOX.
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