UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta testified last month at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on piracy of live sports broadcasting over the Internet, and he said the UFC is potentially losing tens of millions of dollars because people are illegally streaming UFC pay-per-views online. Now the UFC is fighting back in court.
The Boston Herald reports that the UFC is suing a bar it accuses of broadcasting UFC 104 without paying the fee (usually between $500 and $1,500) that bars have to pay for commercial broadcasts of the event.
"This is a situation where a bar has illegally taken our pay-per-view signal without purchasing it through our exclusive closed-circuit providers," UFC lawyer Lawrence Epstein said.
The bar, which is being sued for $640,000 in damages, says that a customer hooked up his laptop to a TV and showed an illegal stream without the bar's knowledge. But whatever the facts of this particular case, the lawsuit is the latest reminder that the UFC is taking illegal piracy of its pay-per-views very seriously.
Another reminder comes from UFC President Dana White, who told the Vancouver Sun that the UFC will sue individuals and seek criminal charges against people who watch pay-per-views without paying.
"When people start going to jail, people will stop doing it," White said.
During pay-per-view broadcasts, the UFC sometimes airs a legal disclaimer reminding viewers that it's illegal to watch pay-per-views without paying. UFC commentator Joe Rogan is fond of dismissing those disclaimers by saying, "You can't stop the Internet." The UFC is apparently ready to find out.