On fighting piracy

On fighting piracy Editorials I was reading an article on the Business Week website yesterday, and it talked about the anti piracy efforts of the various sports leagues.

Take the UFC, a mixed martial arts competition, for example. The UFC has contracted with several anti-piracy firms, as well as having a couple staff also working on it. While a match is going on, all these people are focused on finding and shutting down illegal streaming video feeds.

And it's a complete waste of money:

It's an almost impossible task. As the night progresses, unauthorized video streams of the event sprout across the Web like weeds on an endless lawn. Although Muncey has contracted with several anti-piracy firms around the world, he personally identifies more than 200 illegal broadcasts of the fight playing on a single site: Justin.tv, the live video streaming service, based in San Francisco.


Conversations with representatives of MLB, the NFL, the National Basketball Assn., and the National Hockey League suggest that Internet piracy of live games is a growing problem. The NFL says it took down 4,130 unauthorized live streams of its games during the 2010 season—a 67 percent jump from the total in 2009. "It's a game of Whac-A-Mole," Gary Gertzog, the NFL's senior vice-president of legal and business affairs, says of sites that allow users to stream games live. "We tell them to stop, they agree to stop, we look later, and they are back at it. This is not where we want to see growth."

I'm not going to take a pro-piracy position here; my point is that their efforts are misdirected. All of the time and money spent on this particular type of anti-piracy effort is a waste because it will not generate any extra income. It would be a much better investment if they spent their time finding a way to make a buck off of this. Clearly there's an unmet need here.

I wonder if  this might function as a kind of stupidity tax? It might sound rude, but consider if 2 companies are in the same position. One figures out how to make a buck off the piracy, and the other merely fights to reduce it. Which one is more profitable, do you think?

Do you know the worst part? They know their efforts won't succeed and yet they keep trying. Nuts, isn't it?

What do you think? Would anyone like to tell me why I'm wrong?

image via Flickr

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Perry27 February, 2011

    This is starting to sound a lot like the war on drugs. We all know how successful that is. Let’s hope that the efforts to stamp out piracy don’t increase it.

  2. […] I’m all for smart ways to fight piracy – ie when it increases sales. But as I’ve said before, I don’t think simply taking the files down will achieve that […]


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