Las Vegas-based Ultimate Fighting Championship, the mixed martial arts fight promotion company, has cracked down on a website that UFC officials said illegally streamed three of its recent pay-per-view fight shows on the Internet.
UFC’s aggressive campaign against pay-per-view online pirates netted a website called www.bestfreeufc.info, resulting in the MMA fight organization taking down and seizing the records of the website.
UFC obtained details of the streaming site’s user base, including email addresses, IP addresses, user names and information pertaining to which of its members watched pirated UFC events. Also recovered were chat transcripts from www.bestfreeufc.info.
Officials for Zuffa, LLC, the business entity that manages UFC, enlisted their anti-piracy lawyers, the Lonstein Law Office in upstate New York, to pursue claims against the identified infringers.
UFC spends hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on legal, legislative and high-tech anti-piracy efforts because pirated pay-per-view programming costs the organization millions of dollars in revenue.
“That’s how we make our money and pay our employees,” said Edward Muncey, UFC senior vice president for digital who tracks thousands of content piracy cases.
As a key moneymaker, pay-per-view content helps Zuffa generate $500 million in annual revenue.
In 2013, some 13 of the 33 UFC live events are pay-per-view, which costs $44.95 or $54.95 for high definition. The number of buys will range from a couple of hundred thousand to a million, depending on the fight.
Muncey said that in this particular case, the illegal streaming was discovered in May.
Consistent with UFC protocol, the organization’s anti-piracy law firm, Lonstein, sent a cease-and-desist letter to the website, he said.
But www.bestfreeufc.info kept streaming UFC fights during two more fight shows, and the website was finally taken down on July 6, Muncey said.
By reading the website’s chat forums, Muncey was able to filter out more clues about the illegal streaming.
“You can see the dialog going on between people,” he said. “People reveal things about themselves that you can use to get identifiable information about them. It’s like being an investigator.”
Muncey said thousands of viewers were watching UFC fights on www.bestfreeufc.info. The website domain was registered in Romania, but most of the viewers were in the U.S., he said.
UFC lawyers will recommend a course of action to deal with the website operators and viewers, Muncey said. Lonstein has handled hundreds of UFC piracy cases against alleged infringers since 2007.
The next UFC pay-per-view event is UFC 164 on Aug. 31. And Muncey will be there manning a laptop to track illegal streaming.
“It’s never ending,” he said.
Contact reporter Alan Snel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5273.