What People Need To Know About Online Streaming and Privacy of Boxing and MMA in 2021
As many may or may not know, in the second wave of the COVID-19 relief bill package, we now have new streaming regulations that were passed.
To start this conversation, let’s set a basic and somewhat dull, explanation of laws and regulations that are created in government. In theory, laws and regulations are set to protect individuals (or corporations who function as individuals) from physical harm, theft, and set a standard amongst our society to live within.
That seems obvious, but over the decades special interest groups, have worked their way in, and created laws, and language, that are confusing, and some might criticize the effectiveness of said legislation for their rights.
“As a general matter, we do not see the need for further criminal penalties for copyright infringement,” Meredith Rose, senior policy counsel at Public Knowledge, was quoted in the statement earlier this month. “…this bill is narrowly tailored and avoids criminalizing users, who may do nothing more than click on a link, or upload a file…”
The Protecting Lawful Streaming Act states that it will apply only to commercial, for-profit privacy streams, as mentioned above, and not target the regular consumer or clicker of a link.
To quote the second paragraph from their official press release.
“The law will not sweep in normal practices by online service providers, good faith business disputes, noncommercial activities, or in any way impact individuals who access pirated streams or unwittingly stream unauthorized copies of copyrighted works. Individuals who might use pirate streaming services will not be affected.”
This seems cut-and-dry, right? If you take or give money to an organization that is not, the official content provider of said content your committing a crime.
I had concerns but to the best of my reading skills it imposes penalties on those who intentionally stream pirated content for commercial profit, and will not go after the people who watch.
Yet, a simple google search brings forth some of the concerns, one of which being interpretation with a major fear being that with the openness and vagueness of priorities online, what can and can not be deemed a violation, could see some not feel good within their rights in creation online with the aspect of a felony looming.
Tillis is the chairman of the Intellectual Property Subcommittee and was recently reelected by a narrow 2% margin, for another six-year term.
So – the innocent viewer of a stream seems to not be targeted, but the entities doing the streaming will be hounded aggressively, but – then we get a cryptic quote from one of the power brokers of the UFC.
UFC President, Dana White, hinted at stiffer penalties around piracy around UFC events in 2021.
A Twitter personality responded to a Dana White tweet explaining he will pirate a promoted forth-coming event, White’s response is cautionary for anyone using streaming platforms.
“…and i can’t wait to catch u!!! Gotta a surprise for u mother [expletive] this year…[SIC]” said the fighter promoter, White, via a tweet.
A further deep-dive shows that a lot of anger White is directing towards legit criminals, who are stealing people’s credit card info, and giving them links to pirate streams, and taking their personal information, and data, which is highly unethical, and should be persecuted.
“They’re never all going to go away,” White concluded. “They’re going to be out there and we’re not trying to get rid of all of them. I just want to catch a few. That’s all I’m looking for.” as quoted by MMAFighting.com in a great article on this topic. “I just want to catch a few. You can’t shut the whole thing down, that piracy industry is going to go on forever.”
The question now is – who will be made an example of, what will that look like?
What is a service?
What constitutes a “service” seems pretty open to interpretation here. Is a service a platform? Is it a channel? Is it a series? Is it an event? I don’t see how any of those interpretations could be completely off the table with the way this bill is worded.
What is the Case Act? It would be following a guideline set forth within a framework and capacity of the Copyright Office that CASE Act would establish its own Copyright Claims Board within the Copyright Office. The Claims Board would function as an intermediator between the copyright claims filed by any copyright holder, replacing the need for a federal court to hear these cases, which in theory sounds great, because the Federal courts should more than likely be focused upon more pressing matters.
The process allows for an opt-out in which you can either go to the board to find out what you would face if found to be in the wrong, or opt-out and head into Federal court.
Support for the bill and the system has strongly come from copyright agencies, whom have had a daunting task of taking on copyrighted material plastered all over social media sites with reckless abandon, not unlike Chris Paul, setting the bar for how a game will be reffed early, online platforms, have unknowingly and sometimes knowingly cut-back upon our propensity to have a need to pay for services since it is so readily available now, and the morality component of a sad offense over decades and decades of usage of the internet, has eroded our decision-making skills. This bill is set to help create a happy medium, and reasonable discourse for all involved to find a resolution, consequence, and compromise, that helps put an end to privacy, or at least, limits it.
The fear by detractors are that the language in the bill is not specific enough, and patent trolls might target major corporations – a perfect example is displayed on this episode of “This American Life”.
The major fear is an Orwellian level of oversite, that creates more fear than freedom. Whereas, those in favor look at it as chasing the major culprits, and putting a strain on them rather than a said person who is using a torrent service.
Now entering, the sometimes seedy, and weird world of combat sports, boxing, MMA, and kickboxing. In which social norms and business practices are just different.
How will this affect the average fight fan who wants to watch most if not all the fights, but no longer has a wealth of riches, as maybe their life savings is $400, and they’re going check-to-check currently?
Well – this is the confusing part. It seems like private citizens that stumble across a seedy stream are not endangered, but who is to know presently, as this piece of legislation is so new. It is interesting that websites such as CrackStreams.com, no longer exists mere days after this legislation, passed and few and far cases to look at it will be interesting to see the landmark cases.
So in essence, it will more than likely not affect, the average citizen other than, it will mean fewer illegal sites to use, and thinking a lot more if one chooses to go that route. So in short, with online piracy being a priority at the pressing moment, how will this legislation, unfold, and furthermore, what will future laws see?
Now let’s say the world no longer has any form of streaming. You pay for everything, and that is how it is. Boxing and MMA are niche sports, was piracy keep the sport alive for some? As with major finical hurdles facing most Americans let alone American families, if the fines are heavy or worse – the fear of fines or prison is lamented in people’s minds…the sport doesn’t grow, potentially.
It is vital that people pay for fights, and support the fighters, to keep the economy going, but let’s not act like the advent of the black box in the early 90s, a VCR-type device that accessed pay-per-view channels for a one-time fee, actually grew the sport a bit, or even being able to listen to PPV’s audio with a distorted signal of video, made it so a lot of people had a chance to be able to follow the fight. With no avenue to watch fights, at the lowest level, means less of an audience.
With everything now having a price point, and only three promoters putting fights on a regular cable network in the United States, Premier Boxing Champions, Top Rank, and Ring City USA, to be a boxing fan you have to pay a lot.
Let’s do basic math. A standard cable package is typically $69.99, with tax we will round that up to roughly $80 dollars for a round number. That means a cable package for one-year is $960.
DAZN offers an annual plan of $99.99. ESPN+ is $6.99 for just that platform or $12.99 for ESPN+, Hulu and Disney Plus, making it $84 a year for ESPN+, or $156 for the combo package. Showtime is $99.99 for one year.
Now add buying pay-per-views, typically at $75.99, nowadays.
Realistically, you’re looking at easily, a two-to-three grand investment in just watching a single sport. As Americans suffer more, the price are raising to appease stockholders, as fight sports have never offered the best values, often, as we get three-to-four good bouts a-year, and then the die-hards will watch the rest.
This price point is one of the largest for any sport, and the lack of access hurts the growth.
If you look at the NFL, NBA, or other sports, you can get a specific plan to watch every team, NBA League Pass, or every red zone play, NFL Red Zone, but for boxing, you need multiple services, and knowledge of how to navigate such a system, to even watch everything. We have no video games that help broaden the sport, and our media give more fan takes than probably any other support I am aware of. Boxing is a mess, and MMA is a bit more uniform (one network, etc) but riddled with more PPV events, as we reach more-and-more trying times.
What this issue comes down to is, if it becomes too hard to watch fights, some will leave the sport, as the value of watching the sport doesn’t equate to other forms of competition unless, boxing especially brings forth some great fights at the price point currently, not adding additional feels for compelling fights.
As we get closer to the brink of economic despair, conspiracy theories being called fact as a Reddit thread confirms their opinion over a peer-reviewed study, will boxing and MMA, became, even more, niche, as other sports, offer a similar if not, better value in terms of a competitive sport in a week-in-week-out aspect.
Piracy isn’t good – I am not for it. Nor am I for people stealing people’s personal credit information and spending it, the fear I have is – where will the line be drawn, as both boxing and MMA function around the economically depressed, and if people don’t watch the fights, the industry suffers, as not just will there be no monetary gain, it also won’t impact culture as a whole.
Will something meant for good, really do bad for the growth of the sport? That is the question.
I guess, the bigger question is – what do fight fans often get back? They often get average match-ups or the best possible opponent in certain budget ranges and just have been conditioned for this to be normal, to be grateful for what little they get. If a slew of individuals face legal actions, will a slew of fight fans leave, if fights don’t appear on easily accessible formats? – I am not sure, but I fear for what might be around the corner in many ways, economic uncertainty, people more divided than ever, and more and more reasons to focus on your own life and not follow the combat sports that often our in combat with themselves more so than in the ring.