Online Streaming of UFC Events Could Soon Be a Felony

Jordy McElroy@ IAugust 9, 2013

Hide ya kids, hide ya wives, and hide ya husbands because the UFC could be taking everybody to jail (Dana White - Esther Lin/MMAFighting)
Hide ya kids, hide ya wives, and hide ya husbands because the UFC could be taking everybody to jail (Dana White - Esther Lin/MMAFighting)

A new motion by the Obama administration could soon lead to felony charges for anyone streaming UFC content online.

That’s right bros and brodettes, your butts could be handed a hefty fine and hauled to the slammer for online piracy.

In 2011, the Stop Online Piracy Act was introduced to the House of Representatives by U.S. Rep. Lamar S. Smith. The bill was proposed as a way for law enforcement to cast a wider net in combating online trafficking of copyrighted property and counterfeit goods.  

Despite the bill’s unpopularity, UFC President Dana White and Zuffa CEO Lorenzo Fertitta offered their full support and backed the proposal in hopes of stopping numerous fans from streaming free UFC content.

Serious issues with the proposal generated public outrage, and by the time 2012 rolled around the bill was already dead in the water.

White admitted himself in an interview with that the full scope of the bill was far from perfect, and the UFC’s primary focus was the piracy aspects of the proposal.

Things could soon be looking up on White’s end. According to a report from The Washington Post, the piracy portion of SOPA may soon be resurrected into acceptance, and it would upgrade the punishment of those caught streaming copyrighted content from a misdemeanor to a felony:

“You probably remember the online outrage over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) copyright enforcement proposal. Last week, the Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force released a report on digital copyright policy that endorsed one piece of the controversial proposal: making the streaming of copyrighted works a felony.

As it stands now, streaming a copyrighted work over the Internet is considered a violation of the public performance right. The violation is only punishable as a misdemeanor, rather than the felony charges that accompany the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted material.

...The Commerce Department report recommends “[a]dopting the same range of penalties for criminal streaming of copyrighted works to the public as now exists for criminal reproduction and distribution,” adding that “[s]ince the most recent updates to the criminal copyright provisions, streaming (both audio and video) has become a significant if not dominant means for consumers to enjoy content online.”

White has always taken an aggressive stance toward online piracy.

During an explosive interview with MMAWeekly a little more than a year ago, he warned anyone seeking free UFC content via online streaming that he was coming after them.

“You got these guys out there saying that they think it's OK to steal our sh*t on the Internet. F**k you. It's not OK, and yes, I'm coming after you, and yes, we will f**king sue you,” said White.

So what’s it going to be? Shell out 50 bucks for every UFC pay-per-view or run the risk of Uncle Dana knocking on your door?