The UFC sat down recently and put pen to paper (or some attorney did some typing on a computer) and along with the National Football League (NFL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) co-wrote a letter to the United States government pushing for changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that will get illegal streams taken down faster.
Illegal streaming a $28 billion problem for the UFC, NFL and NBA
While the UFC generates massive sales for their pay-per-view (PPV) offerings — some reports had UFC 292 bringing in $38 million in PPV buys — at $79 and up for a single purchase, many fans prefer to steal the fights rather than pay.
The NFL and NBA find themselves in a similar boat. The three organizations claim that illegal streams are costing them a combined $28 billion in revenue.
The big problem is that the live events only last a few hours and it takes longer than that to send DMCA takedown requests to internet service providers (ISPs) and get the illegal streams taken down.
UFC co-signs letter to Patent office
“Unfortunately, UFC, NBAP and NFLP’s shared experience is that many OSPs frequently take hours or even days to remove content in response to takedown notices—thus allowing infringing live content to remain online during the most anticipated moments, or even the entirety, of a UFC event or an NBA or NFL game,” the three organizations wrote in their joint letter to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The DMCA was written before live streaming existed
The law is over 20 years old and when it was written in the late 1990s the idea of streaming video of a live sports event over the internet was many years in the future.
As Torrent Freak explained, “When the DMCA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1998, live streaming simply didn’t exist yet. However, the law did clarify that service providers should process takedown notices ‘expeditiously.’
“In reality, however, the term expeditiously is not defined. According to some, responding within a few hours is sufficient, while other services believe that taking content down within a day is still quite reasonable.”
UFC et al want instantaneous take downs, limits on who can live stream
The letter from the UFC, NBA and NFL stresses this issue: “It should be no surprise that the notice-and-takedown regime established by the DMCA, which was enacted before widespread internet-based livestreaming became available, is not well-suited to address the present-day particular piracy issues surrounding the infringement of live content.
“[T]he requirement to ‘expeditiously’ remove infringing content means that content must be removed ‘instantaneously or near-instantaneously’ in response to a takedown request. This would be a relatively modest and non-controversial update to the DMCA that could be included in the broader reforms being considered by Congress or could be addressed separately.
“Certain OSPs already impose measures like these, demonstrating that the measures are feasible, practical and important tools to reduce livestream piracy. Both of these reforms are needed,” the letter continues.
“This would be a relatively modest and non-controversial update to the DMCA that could be included in the broader reforms being considered by Congress or could be addressed separately,” they conclude.
Small businesses could be caught in the crossfire
The Verge points out the potential collatoral damage of “instantaneous take downs”:
“Takedowns have been abused by corporations as well. While the three sports organizations are focused on video streaming, DMCA takedowns don’t just affect the entertainment space. For instance, small online clothing resellers have dealt with manufacturers sending takedowns under the guise of IP infringement so they don’t have to compete with lightly used and inexpensive clothing. If takedowns occurred “instantaneously,” many businesses could shut down quickly with no easy way to reopen.”
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