The UFC is taking a new tact in the war against pay-per-view piracy.
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported earlier this week that the UFC had obtained email addresses, usernames and IP addresses of users who had illegally streamed events through the website GreenFeedz.com.
The UFC has spent plenty of time and money going after websites that illegally stream UFC events, and they've had plenty of success in doing so. But this marks the first time that the promotion has targeted individual users who stream events.
Today, Zuffa chief counsel Lawrence Epstein had some strong words for fans who would rather stream the event illegally than pay for it. Epstein spoke to MMAjunkie.com:
We love our fans, and we've got some of the greatest fans in the world, and all the success we've had with the UFC is directly attributable to those fans. But people that steal our stuff – they're not our fans.
If you're a huge [Georges St-Pierre] fan, would you steal from him? I don't think so. So we love our fans, we respect our fans, but people who steal from us, frankly, aren't our fans.
Epstein makes a valid point here. It's easy to sit back and say, "Well, the UFC makes plenty of money off of these events, so it won't hurt them at all if I watch a stream instead of buying this event."
And that's partially true, because the UFC does indeed make plenty of money from these events.
But Epstein's reference to St-Pierre is a wise one. GSP, like many other top-level UFC superstars, earns a portion of his paycheck from the sales of pay-per-view events. He earns a percentage of each individual pay-per-view buy—reportedly as high as five percent, depending on the actual numbers the event draws.
When you stream a pay-per-view, you're directly taking money from the pockets of a fighter you proclaim to be a fan of. And sure, St-Pierre is a very rich man, and the two or three bucks he earns from your purchase isn't going to affect him much.
But that's not the point, is it? The point is that you're intentionally stealing from a fighter and a man that you proclaim to be a fan of.
That doesn't seem like a very good way to express your fandom.