The UFC has had a long and illustrious history of being anal jerks regarding their copyright, and I’m not just talking about the straight up pirating of their events. MMAJunkie.com and MMAMania.com used to be UFCJunkie and UFCMania respectively before they got a letter from the UFC’s lawyers asking them to politely hand over the domains. They also have a warm and fuzzy disclaimer under every picture on their website stating “if you violate our intellectual property you may be liable for: actual damages, loss of income, and profits you derive from the use of this image or clip, and, where appropriate, the costs of collection and/or statutory damages up to $150,000 (USD).” So maybe think twice about sharing any UFC.com pictures on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook.
Now they’ve started to go after giffing. You know gifs: those animated images I use all the time that make Fightlinker look like a Harry Potter newspaper? A lot of those were made by a dude named Zombie Prophet at Iron Forges Iron, and just after UFC 147 he got a legal finger wagging from the UFC. Here’s what they sent him:
Dear representative of Ironforgesiron.com and Softlayer.com,
We are absolutely confident that the web pages through the links below are participating in contributory copyright infringement by embedding unauthorized videos in the form of .gif’s from UFC 147. Below, I have provided the URLs of the web pages on your website containing the embedded .gif’s displaying unauthorized video of UFC 147. Please remove all embedded .gif’s immediately.
My contact information is at the bottom of this email. I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above on the allegedly infringing web pages is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
EDWARD MUNCEY | VICE PRESIDENT, NEW MEDIA & TECHNOLOGY
What saddens me most here is the UFC’s vice president of ‘New Media and Technology’ spends his time attacking the people who have basically been doing HIS job for the past several years. The UFC has been worse than bad at promoting their product in new media – the majority of their work seems to comprise of sending copyright infringement notifications and lawsuits out. The one exception to the rule is twitter, and look at the success they’ve had there. Why they don’t embrace other platforms and formats like they did tweets is a mystery to me.
At a time when the old superstars of the sport are nearing the ends of their careers and the new kids are having trouble gaining traction in the minds of fans, you’d think the UFC would be excited that there are people out there giffing amazing finishes and creating highlight videos of their favorite fighters. As far as the UFC is concerned, it’s all illegal and must be stopped. They see no difference between someone posting up the whole 25 minute Wanderlei Silva v Rich Franklin fight and a gif of Rich Franklin trying to get his balls to drop back down into its sack.
I can’t defend Iron Forges Iron completely. To say they provide a fairly robust selection of UFC gifs does not do them justice – they gif nearly every significant occurrence that happens from every event, and I can see why the UFC might not be too happy about that. But even then, what actual harm is being done here? How many people are saying “F*ck buying that PPV, I can just check out the gifs afterwards”? Compared to how many people are sharing those gifs afterwards, talking about the event they just enjoyed, and showing new fans what they’re missing? That seems like exactly the kind of social involvement and interaction most companies would kill to have, and the UFC is actively trying to stamp it out. Giffing isn’t a crime, goddamnit. And companies that treat it like it is are stupid.