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Pirates of the UFC: Curse of the Free-Per-View

UFC President Dana White speaks during a news

UFC President Dana White speaks during a news conference for UFC 115 in Vancouver, British Columbia. (June 10, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

Looks like the days of being able to watch UFC pay-per-view events streaming live for free online are coming to a halt.

Zuffa LLC, the parent company of UFC and WEC, announced Friday that it served subpoenas to Justin.tv and Ustream.tv, demanding these Internet broadcast sites to reveal the identities of users who have uploaded their live events.

“I can’t wait to go after the thieves that are stealing our content,” UFC president Dana White said in a statement. “This is a fight we will not lose.”

A UFC pay-per-view event typically costs $44.95, but the two sites in question enable anyone with an Internet connection to broadcast live streaming video to an unlimited audience.

Let's play this out for a minute: 

1) When ESPN UK airs an event in America for free, a shrewd Englishman can stream it online to anyone in the world. (And vice-versa with England-based events that air free here on Spike)

2) Every time there's a UFC card, something to the effect of "UFC live stream" occupies at least three spots on Google Trends' top 10 list.

3) That's beaucoup bucks not being spent for product consumption.

In the  statement released Friday, UFC claimed more than 36,000 people watched UFC 108 uploaded from one IP address, and 78,000 did the same for UFC 110.

While UFC is doing just fine financially, it's impossible to argue that free streaming of PPV events is nothing short of  pure theft of intellectual property, just as Napster was with music when it first launched. It will be interesting to see what happens going forward. UFC isn't the first to pursue legal recourse against these sites.

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