UFC Sues Justin.tv, Claiming It Induced Infringement

from the one-to-watch dept

The company that owns Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has been complaining and threatening about online streaming video services for a while, but it appears that it's finally started suing, and its first target is Justin.tv. This isn't that surprising, given that it's (loudly) complained about Justin.tv for years, and made clear it was gearing up for lawsuits. I haven't seen the full filing yet, but unless there's something egregious in there, I can't see why Justin.tv isn't protected by the DMCA's safe harbors. UFC (well, really its parent company, Zuffa LLC) is trying to claim "inducement" and seems to be suggesting that Justin.tv doesn't respond helpfully enough to takedowns. However, from what I've heard, Justin.tv is pretty vigilant in responding to takedowns and has put in place safeguards to try to block such things. They might not work perfectly, but the company has definitely done plenty to try to block such streams. Again, perhaps there's something more in the filing, but otherwise, it seems likely that Justin.tv is clearly protected by the DMCA's safe harbors.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    johnjac (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 6:00am

    Obviously there's only one way to settle this

    Cage Fight.... Justin v Zuffa CEO Dana White.

    Two men enter, only one man leaves.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Mike C. (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 6:06am

    Re: Obviously there's only one way to settle this

    You should now expect a call from Warner Brothers Pictures for infringing on their property "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" and the trademark phrase from the movie... :-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    johnjac (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 6:15am

    Re: Re: Obviously there's only one way to settle this

    It's in my netflix queue now. I've only seen the original Mad Max.

    Didn't even know where this came from. Thanks for the tip.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 7:03am

    Re: Obviously there's only one way to settle this

    Who needs a cage fight when you can have an Ultimate X fight on TNA :D

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 7:19am

    Re: Re: Obviously there's only one way to settle this

    Big problem here: nobody watches TNA, not even on Justin.tv streams.

     

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  6.  
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    PRMan, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 7:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Obviously there's only one way to settle this

    The Road Warrior is the best Mad Max movie.

     

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  7.  
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    Pixelation, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 7:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Obviously there's only one way to settle this

    "It's in my netflix queue now. I've only seen the original Mad Max."

    If you're smart you won't ruin a Mad Max by watching any sequel. Really, just don't do it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 7:54am

    They keep complaining but every time someone look at the numbers those tell a different story.

    Now they take those actions and that just create more ill will towards them, with people competing to show them how powerless they are. This may even end up in open revolt some day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:06am

    Justin.tv is pretty vigilant in responding to takedowns and has put in place safeguards to try to block such things.

    The problem is in a live event, the time to take it down can still be too long. Effectively, all the harm can be done in a short period of time (the time it takes the PPV event to happen). Unless Justin.tv has people checking every live stream all the time, they will always end up providing illegal content.

    Depending on how things are structured, justin.tv could even be taking advantage of this "lag", knowing that having these events on their system drives populatity and traffic. Considering their peak traffic seems to be the same sort of days as major PPV events and premiere league soccer, it isn't hard to imply what is going on.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 8:34am

    Re:

    Wahhhhhhh, justice is hard!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 9:57am

    Re:

    Depending on how things are structured, justin.tv could even be taking advantage of this "lag", knowing that having these events on their system drives populatity and traffic.

    You do realize that the more traffic means more bandwidth costs, right?

    Justin.tv is known for paying attention to what channels are getting very popular to see if they've got infringing content.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 10:04am

    The UFC is foolishly following down the path of the RIAA and MPAA. The only move that could be worse for them is if they start suing their fans. Who knows, maybe that's where they're headed next?

    White and the Fratata [sic] brothers should realize that there are, at least, a couple of reasons why these unauthorized streams are so popular. First, they've set the price point for their PPVs too high. Second, there are millions of people who don't have access to legal methods to watch these PPVs live. The UFC's own website has every fight since the very first UFC, but doesn't show the PPVs live.

    If the UFC wanted to cut down on unauthorized streaming, the first step is to offer an authorized version. The next step would be to set their price point for both the PPV and internet stream to maximize their revenue. Once that's done, if there's still unauthorized streams on the internet, so what? Those people are helping build your brand and the money they've saved could be spent on UFC merchandise. Just like Mike shows examples of in the music industry all the time, you can make money even if people are taking your main "product" for free.

     

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  13.  
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    John Duncan Yoyo, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 10:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously there's only one way to settle this

    I'd say only watching the Road Warrior- skipping Mad Max and Thunderdome is a better there can only be one strategy.

    Mad Max is worth hunting down in the original austrailian before they dubbed it into american.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 11:20am

    Re: Re:

    "Justin.tv is known for paying attention to what channels are getting very popular to see if they've got infringing content."

    - citation needed

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 11:50am

    Re:

    You need to do a little modern math to realize why their price point, while seemingly stupid, is in fact accurate and correct.

    First off, their sale rate continues to do well and grow. Obviously, in the world of supply and demand, this stuff is in demand.

    Second, this is the end product of the Cwf thing. They give away plenty of free stuff (Spike TV is often UFC TV, it seems) including all sorts of things like Ultimate fighter and Free Fight Nights Live. It isn't like the content is locked up. Just like WWE, there is plenty of free, and the big events are not free. Heck, they even run the prelim fights for free, what more do you want?

    Third, pricing is complex, but how it relates to buy rates is also important. a $40 PPV nets them back maybe $30 from the cable cmopanies. A chunk of that goes to putting the stuff on the bird so that the cable companies can get it. There is no indication that dropping the retail price would up the buy rate enough to make up for the losses of income.

    Fourth, and really key: Pricey PPVs tend to make people meet together to enjoy the event together (Bob is going to get the PPV, party as his house). That creates and energizes the fan base (non-fans or casual fans getting sucked in by their friends enthusiasm), and encourages people to share, discuss, and be part of the UFC lifestyle or fan base. It is incredibly powerful. If everyone was sitting at home watching it alone, they might not get the same effects.

    Plus plenty of sports bars and watering holes use this sort of thing as a way to draw in patrons. Again, it gives a shared experience for the viewers, and makes them realize that more people enjoy the event.

    The reality is that PPV events are priced that way because it works, it is a valid business model, and really does well. The price won't drop, because (as Mike would say) rarity is what sells, and a live event is the ultimate rarity.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    - citation needed

    No, there's not. What's needed is for you to get off your lazy, pompous, snarky ass and look some things up your damn self.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re:

    I agree with your last point to some extent, but you're arguing against the reality of what technology allows in your other points. Just like the RIAA supporters keep saying that their .mp3's are priced appropriatly, yet keep being pirated, if UFC won't change their price point on PPV's (to the marginal cost of zero) the technology exists to stream it live on the internet, and no amount of lawsuits will change that fact.

    You mention how it's about supply and demand and you're right, but when supply is infinite, price tends to zero. And with free live streaming off Justin.tv or other sites, there always will be an infinite supply.

    If people want to meet together at a buddy's house or a bar to watch the fights, great, but those who don't want to, or can't, have a free alternative. The sooner the UFC stops fighting that and learns to embrace it, the better off they'll be.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Re:

    Also, just like the MPAA, the UFC should focus on giving their customers what they want, rather than trying to dictate how their content is consumed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sorry, but that isn't how it works. Mike Masnick assets something, he needs to bring the proof, otherwise it's just something he pulled out of his ass.

    It's the nature of how it works.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Infinite supply only applies when it is in fact infinite. There are few services willing to take the risk of internet broadcasting at a level that means anything, and most that do cannot handle more than a few users at a time. By nature, real time events are incredibly hard to pirate reliably.

    So since it isn't likely to reach any level of infinite distribution, and the costs of reducing the price (say cutting it from $40 to $20) is higher than the returns in new customers, there is no reason.

    People who will pirate it at $40 will pirate it at $20. People still pirate music that is 99 cents. People pirate because they want to pirate, not to save money. They want to be cool, they want to "stick it to the man", whatever their logic. Even if the price was 10 cents for a song, it would still be too much for most dedicated pirates.

    UFC has nothing to embrace here, except for an increasing bottom line. The free alternative won't happen, because if the market does become infinte, the product will disappear. Talk about killing the golden goose!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Infinite supply only applies when it is in fact infinite. There are few services willing to take the risk of internet broadcasting at a level that means anything, and most that do cannot handle more than a few users at a time. By nature, real time events are incredibly hard to pirate reliably.

    So since it isn't likely to reach any level of infinite distribution, and the costs of reducing the price (say cutting it from $40 to $20) is higher than the returns in new customers, there is no reason.

    People who will pirate it at $40 will pirate it at $20. People still pirate music that is 99 cents. People pirate because they want to pirate, not to save money. They want to be cool, they want to "stick it to the man", whatever their logic. Even if the price was 10 cents for a song, it would still be too much for most dedicated pirates.

    UFC has nothing to embrace here, except for an increasing bottom line. The free alternative won't happen, because if the market does become infinte, the product will disappear. Talk about killing the golden goose!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Infinite supply only applies when it is in fact infinite. There are few services willing to take the risk of internet broadcasting at a level that means anything, and most that do cannot handle more than a few users at a time. By nature, real time events are incredibly hard to pirate reliably.

    So since it isn't likely to reach any level of infinite distribution, and the costs of reducing the price (say cutting it from $40 to $20) is higher than the returns in new customers, there is no reason.

    People who will pirate it at $40 will pirate it at $20. People still pirate music that is 99 cents. People pirate because they want to pirate, not to save money. They want to be cool, they want to "stick it to the man", whatever their logic. Even if the price was 10 cents for a song, it would still be too much for most dedicated pirates.

    UFC has nothing to embrace here, except for an increasing bottom line. The free alternative won't happen, because if the market does become infinte, the product will disappear. Talk about killing the golden goose!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's like looking in a mirror!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Good God there's a lot of dumb in that comment, and that's not even referencing the hypocricy.

    "What hypocricy," you ask? How about this comment of yours from further down the (threaded) comments:

    People who will pirate it at $40 will pirate it at $20. People still pirate music that is 99 cents. People pirate because they want to pirate, not to save money. They want to be cool, they want to "stick it to the man", whatever their logic. Even if the price was 10 cents for a song, it would still be too much for most dedicated pirates.

    Sans proof, citations, or any documentation at all. For shame!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Infinite supply only applies when it is in fact infinite. There are few services willing to take the risk of internet broadcasting at a level that means anything, and most that do cannot handle more than a few users at a time. By nature, real time events are incredibly hard to pirate reliably.

    Few services as of right now. Just like there were only a few file sharing services when Napster was going strong in the 90s. Interesting how you seem to think that technology won't be advancing in the future. Shows how narrow your focus is. Try standing back and looking at the bigger picture every now and then. You might be surprised at what you see.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    HrilL, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You must live under a rock if you think pirating live events is hard to do reliably. Every day live games and events are pirated and streamed live on the internet. Pretty much any event is a few smartly worded Google searches away. The only down side I find is that the quality is horribly low. While some streaming services are better than others most are lower than Standard definition TV.

    I see this as a fare market.
    Free = streaming at low quality
    PPV = Standard Definition
    PPV + HD fee = Best quality

    The reason to buy is clearly there. Now once these online streaming sites can offer HD quality then I'd see more of a problem with competing with free. But as it stands now nothing is competing on a level field.

    Other events that are non PPV also still have all the people streaming viewing their advertisements. Maybe they should offer a free steam themselves so they can actually count the viewers and get more money from advertisers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Fenriq, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 2:48pm

    There will always be pirates

    Zuffa and the UFC really should approach this from the other side. Yes, you can use a stick to beat people with but its so much more compelling to provide a value-add for buying the PPV (which I think are really too high given the economy).

    Yes, they may force Justin.tv to do more to stop the streams but there are always going to be more people willing to do it. There will always be pirating going on, the better way to deal with it is to make buying the PPV more appealing than stealing it and it would be simple to do so via any number of mechanisms from merchandise giveaways to access to special events to entry to win a trip to a major show or whatever.

    That they are going the traditional lawsuit route tells me that Zuffa may be on the cutting edge but their roots are firmly founded in old school business practices. They need to break away and realize that pissing off potential customers may be a short term win but a long term loss. Lots of wanna-be UFC's out there aching for customers.

     

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  28.  
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    waylay73 (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 3:35pm

    Um, no!

    “People who will pirate it at $40 will pirate it at $20. People still pirate music that is 99 cents. People pirate because they want to pirate, not to save money. They want to be cool, they want to "stick it to the man", whatever their logic. Even if the price was 10 cents for a song, it would still be too much for most dedicated pirates.”

    I watch UFC events only via illegal streams. I am the sole provider for a family. I don't do this to stick it to the man. I support the UFC via watching their reality show, The Ultimate Figter, and I attended the UFC event in Sydney, Australia last year. $40 for one TV sporting event is simply out of my price range. I can pay $90 a month for cable and get access to hundreds of hours of sports. I can pay $250 and watch every NFL game online for the entire season. $40 for 3.5 hours of television is not value for money. Especially when they continually increase the number of events each year. If they dropped it to a more reasonable price I would happily pay. The quality of streams are not good, so a ppv has a RTB, but not at $40.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 4:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It is all stuff that has been discussed on techdirt before. The price seems to have very little effect on piracy, until the price gets very, very small.

    It's a shame you joined us so late. Perhaps you can go back and read 10 years of archives and catch up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 4:11pm

    Re: Um, no!

    What would be reasonable?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 4:34pm

    Re: Re:

    Plus plenty of sports bars and watering holes use this sort of thing as a way to draw in patrons. Again, it gives a shared experience for the viewers, and makes them realize that more people enjoy the event.

    Maybe not for UFC, but last time I checked, most of the PPV sports events had specific warnings about video not being licensed for public consumption, thus specifically outlawing exactly what you are saying here. Sure, sports bars may ignore these warnings, but I suspect that the copyright maximalists would much rather see 40 people watching 40 different TVs at $40 a pop than 40 people watching 4 TVs at $40 a pop.

    UFC charges for PPV sports events venues about $500-2000 per event. I am not sure how much it actually is, because I can find nowhere online where they actually have a price. However, I know most of the bars in my area specifically do not carry UFC fights because the cost is too expensive. I also know of one bar who was sued and lost specifically for showing UFC fights live on PPV without paying for a public license.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 6:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Obviously there's only one way to settle this

    I'm always on the lookout for TNA!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2011 @ 9:02pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Incorrect. First, please stuff the "copyright maximalist" shit back in your bag, it's insulting. If you start with that type of crap, the assumption is you mind is already made up. Would it help if I called your a freetard? Nope. So give it up.

    PPV events can be licensed for public consumption. Sports bars often get around the issue by paying for a "commercial" cable or sat install, and then buying at whatever their buy rate price is. The rest is a question of licensing between the event and the cable company. If they are not able to make the money back on the license fees they pay, then they are right not to run it. It's bottom line business.

    PPV event people understand and expect people to group together to see the events, heck, it's better for the event (as I indicated before). The social aspects are incredibly important in the spreading of this sort of thing. Most people I know who buy on the PPVs typically do it in groups of about 5 - 10 people, usually whoever has the newest big screen TV or the most comfy sofas and chairs. I don't know very many people who single buy the events, they are pricey for a single viewer.

    The key is this: If they cut the price in half, do they more than double the sales, and do they more than double the viewership. There is no indication that would happen. In fact, PPV buy rates are pretty much maxed out, it seems.

    While I hate using wikipedia for anything, this is a good indcation:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pay-per-view#UFC_.28Ultimate_Fighting_Championship.29

    Their first million buy rate was actually UFC 66. Outside of the exceptional UFC 100, all other events hover in that same area, from about 750,000 - 1 million, depending mostly on who is on the card. For reference, UFC 50 was about 250,000 buys.

    So there doesn't appear to be much upside. 1 million is a big PPV event (most big events are in that range, the biggest boxing ever was just under 2 million). For UFC to reach 2 million (to double their average event) would be to get every PPV buyer in the US on a single night. It would be record breaking, it would be the biggest PPV event ever, and they would net less money (because the amount paid to the systems would remain the same, so they would net less money overall). Most importantly, they would lower the market price (and some would suggest the product value in people's minds) by doing so. That is never a good thing to do.

    Business wise, there is little incentive to lower the price, there isn't that much more market to get.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Jan 24th, 2011 @ 11:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, it is something that's been discussed here often, and yet no proof of that position has ever been brought forward. On the other hand we have many (myself included) who have attested (not assetted, attested, choose your words carefully) that we have downloaded things not to get out of spending a buck, but to try it out so we know it's worth purchasing. Excuse me, 'extended-term renting.'

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2011 @ 8:34am

    Justin tv is horrible at taking down illegal streams. Take this stream that has been showing UFC events for the last few days: http://www.justin.tv/mma_man_23. It's at over 12,000 total views right now and usually has around 200-300 viewers at any given time. It's also always towards the top of the Entertainment section, has been reported numerous times, and yet even with this lawsuit hanging over their heads, JTV has yet to ban it.

    And that's not even getting into the fact that JTV let's 40 to 60 year old men sexually harass minors on their site. If you try to talk to a staff member or admin about this, or point out the pedophiles to them, YOU get banned and the perverts are left alone. Hell, one of their own administrators going by the name "Saffire", a 40 year old man, was caught talking about masterbation with a 15 year old girl and a 16 year old. One of their former staff members by the name of Tia, an adult woman, was caught flirting with a 16 year old boy by the name of Dylan numerous times.

    JTV is a complete mess, filled with staff corruption and lazy administrators. I hope Zuffa wipes them out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    Headhunter, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 9:39pm

    Wow

    LOL the UFC is like the MPAA and RIAA Nastybutler77 not even part of any subject line about this topic and your pulling that card out lol... First of all you need to know something about the torrent world. Pirates do not stop taking and matter of fact they promote ways to save money without getting caught, which I will not get into.

    The problem i see is this with a law suit against Justin which everyone in the torrent world is sort of happy the focus is on them. Is the big shot lawyer UFC has is so consumed it takes 6 months to a year as that gives the pirates time to change names and reload..
    P.S Justin is small potato's compared to many out there.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Chris Foley, Jan 30th, 2011 @ 8:24pm

    Justin TV

    As of late Justin TV is becoming a joke to all who use it. They may have software that takes down Broadcasters channel and even users but the the problem is they are taking down the normal everyday users. I have been using Justin TV for a few years now and both my Chat Broadcast and my user name have been banned. I sent off emails requesting a answer as to why and still no response. I know of others that have been banned and the answer they got was it was a software glitch. Either way you look at it Justin TV is a fail and people are starting to search and use other online broadcast sites. Later JTV and lets hope UFC makes you pay through the arse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    lenkani, Jan 4th, 2012 @ 11:42pm

    Justin TV and Greenfeedz.com

    I saw a few sites where the event will be shown. I think Ustream has a ppv version. Justin has some channels. Greenfeedz.com has a good feed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    justin tv, Feb 23rd, 2012 @ 5:09pm

    justin tv

    I agree "Their first million buy rate was actually UFC 66. Outside of the exceptional UFC 100, all other events hover in that same area, from about 750,000 - 1 million, depending mostly on who is on the card. For reference, UFC 50 was about 250,000 buys.

    So there doesn't appear to be much upside. 1 million is a big PPV event (most big events are in that range, the biggest boxing ever was just under 2 million). For UFC to reach 2 million (to double their average event) would be to get every PPV buyer in the US on a single night. It would be record breaking, it would be the biggest PPV event ever, and they would net less money (because the amount paid to the systems would remain the same, so they would net less money overall). Most importantly, they would lower the market price (and some would suggest the product value in people's minds) by doing so. That is never a good thing to do." http://www.iddaalive.net/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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