UFC subpoenas Justin.tv, Ustream.tv for names of illegal streamers

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If this were the AP, the following would be the lede to this next story: “UFC President Dana White wants to put pirates in a kimura.” (That, of course, assumed the AP funny lede guy even knows what a kimura is!) Man, those soft ledes are terrible. Moving on… yeah, Dana White is upset at pirates. The promotion has subpoenaed Justin.tv and Ustream.tv, demanding to know the names of people who stream UFC pay-per-view events.

In typical Dana White fashion, he’s yelling at everyone, everywhere:

I can’t wait to go after the thieves that are stealing our content. This is a fight we will not lose.

I agree with his sentiment, but let’s not continue to confuse stealing with copyright infringement. They’re different crimes for a reason.

Even though UFC makes millions of dollars per year from pay-per-view (its primary source of revenue, by the way), it still feels that it’s losing millions because of these streams.

That assumes a lot of things, of course. The primary one is that it assumes that every single person watching a stream is a lost sale, which is patently ridiculous: how many of the people watching the stream have zero intention of paying for a UFC event? Granted, that doesn’t mean these people are entitled to watch the stream, but let’s not pretend that every viewer is a lost sale.

To be fair to the sites in question, Justin.tv and Ustream.tv, they both actively patrol their users for infringing material. It’s significantly harder to find UFC streams on these sites than it was only a little while ago. So it’s not like the sites are all, “Woo! We’re making money selling ads next to an illegal stream of Anderson Silva beating up Chael Sonnen!”

But let’s also not pretend that Justin.tv and Ustream.tv are the only two sites or services that stream UFC events. In fact, I’d go so far as to say you’d be a fool to stream and/or watch UFC events on these two sites. It’d be like using a public BitTorrent site and then being shocked when you get a notice of infringement letter from your ISP. Look before your leap, etc.

While I’m not sure that UFC would be best served by trying to sue its fans, I definitely understand where it’s coming from.

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