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NBA, NFL, and UFC Team Up to Swiftly Tackle Online Pirates

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Sports Copyright

In a united front, the NBA, NFL, and UFC have stepped onto the battlefield against digital piracy, aiming to accelerate the process of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedowns. In an open letter that made waves across the web, and was expertly reported by TorrentFreak (via The Verge), these heavyweight sports organizations have fervently appealed to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to revamp the procedure for swiftly removing illicit livestreams. Their collective call? To transform the removal of these nefarious streams into an almost instantaneous affair. The trio of leagues contends that the sprawling global sports arena is hemorrhaging an astounding $28 billion due to fans flocking to pirated live streams instead of shelling out for legitimate ones.

Legal representatives of the UFC, NBA, and NFL reportedly composed the letter that minced no words about the colossal menace that rampant piracy poses to their thriving empires. “The rampant piracy of live sports events causes tremendous harm to our companies,” they assert. The crux of the issue lies in the delayed response from online service providers, who often take what seems like ages, or worse, “hours or even days,” to bring down infringing content. This sluggishness grants the rogue sports streams ample time to play out the full event, unabated. A predicament that is particularly gnawing given the time-sensitive nature of live sports content.

Zooming in on the fine print of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it’s Section 512 that’s the focal point of discontent. This segment dictates that content must be removed “expeditiously.” However, the power trio of UFC, NBA, and NFL aims to tweak this wording, replacing it with “instantaneously or near-instantaneously.” This tactical alteration is proposed as a potential remedy to their revenue woes. The letter articulates that this change could be a modest yet indispensable update to the DMCA, a tweak that could be bundled into the comprehensive reforms currently under scrutiny in Congress or addressed separately.

However, this missive bypasses a contentious point: the fans’ exasperation with regional blackouts, a concern that drives many to resort to pirated streams for an end-around solution.

Furthermore, the leagues beseech the USPTO to entertain a more rigorous set of prerequisites for online service providers in terms of vetting users who post livestreams. They’ve thrown their weight behind “specific verification measures,” which encompass measures like disabling the streaming capability for nascent accounts or those with a paltry subscriber count. A compelling point they make is that certain online service providers are already deploying such measures, effectively demonstrating their viability, feasibility, and efficacy in curbing the spread of livestream piracy.

It’s crucial to note that this letter marks only the opening salvo in what could be a protracted battle to reshape the DMCA. The DMCA, engraved into the annals of law by Bill Clinton in 1998, has been buffeted by countless calls for reform since. These demands originate from media conglomerates yearning for more stringent actions, as well as from users who argue that it bestows copyright holders with a disproportionately commanding position. The overhaul sought by the leagues would entail Congress legislating a revised version, a process neither expedient nor straightforward.

In the grand arena of battling piracy, the NBA, NFL, and UFC have donned their armor, and their missive signals a declaration of war against copyright infringement. Whether they emerge victorious or encounter stumbling blocks in the form of legislative intricacies remains to be seen, but one thing’s for certain: the match has only just begun.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Sports Copyright

What is the main concern of the UFC, NBA, and NFL addressed in the letter?

The primary concern raised in the letter is the rampant piracy of live sports events, which is causing significant harm to the financial interests of the UFC, NBA, and NFL.

Why are the leagues urging the USPTO to speed up DMCA takedowns?

The leagues want to accelerate the removal of illegal livestreams through nearly instantaneous DMCA takedowns. This is to prevent pirates from broadcasting unauthorized live sports events, which is causing substantial revenue losses in the sports industry.

How much revenue is the sports industry estimated to be losing due to pirated live feeds?

According to the letter, the global sports industry is estimated to be losing up to $28 billion as fans opt for pirated live feeds instead of legitimate paid ones.

What specific change do the leagues want in the DMCA?

The leagues want to change the language of the DMCA’s Section 512 from “expeditiously” to “instantaneously or near-instantaneously.” This alteration aims to make the process of removing infringing content quicker and more effective.

Is the issue only about piracy takedowns?

While piracy takedowns are a significant concern, the letter did not address another issue: sports fans’ dissatisfaction with regional blackouts, which some viewers might be using pirated streams to bypass.

How do the leagues propose online service providers verify users posting livestreams?

The leagues advocate for online service providers to implement “particular verification measures,” such as blocking livestreaming from newly created accounts or accounts with few subscribers. They argue that such measures are feasible and essential for reducing livestream piracy.

Is this letter the final step in making changes to the DMCA?

No, the letter marks the initial step in communicating the intent to change the DMCA. Making changes to the DMCA requires Congress to pass legislation, which is a complex and time-consuming process.

Has the DMCA faced calls for change before?

Yes, since its enactment in 1998, the DMCA has been subject to numerous calls for change from various parties, including media companies seeking stricter measures and users concerned about copyright holder power.

What challenges might the leagues face in their effort to change the DMCA?

Changing the DMCA necessitates congressional action to revise the law. This process is often slow and intricate, involving debates and negotiations, making it a challenging endeavor for the leagues.

Is there a solution on the horizon for the issue of piracy in live sports streaming?

While the letter highlights the leagues’ determination to combat piracy, finding a comprehensive solution will require a collaborative effort among stakeholders, potential legal changes, and technological advancements in copyright protection.

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