Despite efforts, UFC loses 'millions and millions' of dollars annually to piracy


ufc-crowd-4.jpgMore than 50 percent of individuals targeted by UFC anti-piracy lawsuits settle out of court, according to a lawyer representing the fight promotion.

“The proactive steps that the UFC has taken have, we believe, made a deterrent effect on online piracy,” Julie Cohen Lonstein told MMAjunkie, adding the “education” of offenders has increased since the UFC began suing individuals several years ago.

“From my discussions with some of the identified pirates, their education (is) that the activity is an infringement of the UFC’s copyright and other rights,” she said.

The promotion is now in its fourth year of a push to punish individuals and commercial entities who, respectively, watch events without paying for them and profit from customers watching pirated content.

Individuals who settle sign a confidentiality agreement, said Lonstein, who declined to disclose figures on the typical dollar amount paid to the UFC. A recent report cited one unanswered lawsuit from a previous website target, Greenfeedz.com, that netted the promotion $11,948.70 in damages and legal fees.

Lonstein said pirates are sued on the basis of copyright law and the Communications Act of 1934, which regulates communications commerce domestically and abroad, but declined to go into further specifics about the UFC’s legal approach to curbing piracy.

She would not say how much money had been recovered as the result of the legal actions, but said the figure over the past year is “a fraction compared to what the UFC has lost with piracy.” UFC chief legal officer Kirk Hendrick said the promotion’s losses are “millions and millions” of dollars yearly.

“There’s no shortage, unfortunately, of people who will try to take a shortcut,” Hendrick said. “We have an obligation to our customers and those athletes to continue to pursue the people who don’t want to pay for the goods and services they receive.”

The UFC this past week announced its latest action, the takedown of a Europe-based website, http://www.cagewatcher.eu, that it said illegally streamed two pay-per-view events, including this month’s UFC 169.

Lonstein said she had yet to receive the site’s user information, which will allow her to initiate legal action. She said that while the files sometimes contain incomplete information, many users provide an easy trail.

Although she did not have figures for an earlier action against the website Greenfeedz.com, she called it a “very successful campaign.”

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