When most people hear about downloading content illegally from the Internet, they usually think about music or maybe even adult entertainment.
But the illegal broadcast streams of pay-per-view events are becoming a big problem as well, and the UFC is taking the fight head on.
Over the last few years, the MMA giant has taken several websites to court over piracy of its shows. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice recently got involved in cracking down on Internet sites that broadcast pay-per-views illegally via online streams.
UFC president Dana White takes piracy very seriously. As his own company transitions to more and more online content, it only makes sense to stop the problem before it gets any worse.
“I’ve been saying it for 10 years, everything’s going Internet. I believe everyone’s going to be watching television over the Internet or however this whole thing’s going to work,” White told MMAWeekly.com following UFC 126.
The UFC introduced a new online format for its pay-per-views last weekend that includes multiple camera angles, commentary and eventually online chatting to help increase a viewer’s reasons to buy a show through the Internet. White believes putting the shows online and having that kind of availability will bring the UFC to a whole new audience.
“It’s a potential for 600 million people to watch the fights. 600 million people and it’s broadcast quality,” White said about the online pay-per-view. “This thing always made sense to me.”
With that great online success however comes problems. Much like the adult industry that has struggled to get a grip on websites broadcasting their content illegally, with many of them having servers based overseas where American courts have little to no reach, the UFC is trying to stop the problem before it gets out of control.
While the music industry had to adapt and change to fit into a new online digital world, White believes that the UFC is battling a much different problem with its product being put online illegally.
“That’s why we’re taking such a strong stance,” White said about online piracy. “You’ve got to understand all this stuff is brand new. Even when the big music thing happened with Napster and all that stuff, if I take your song and let people download the song, the song isn’t ruined. People still want to hear the album or the song or whatever it is.
“When our event gets stolen then it’s over. You know the results, a live event is different than anything else. We’re fighting it hard.”
They are fighting it in court and through the legal system, and if White has his way, those that are prosecuted will be facing harsh penalties.
“I said it when we made this announcement, I’ll say it again, people are going to jail.”
The battle will obviously continue and the war against online piracy may never truly end, but stopping the worst offenders now will make those who attempt it later much less likely to try.