"Since its inception, Justin.tv's members and users have employed the website and its technology as a platform to illegally distribute, stream, perform, copy or broadcast UFC live events," the UFC alleges in a complaint filed late last week in U.S. District Court in Nevada.
Companies like Justin.tv typically respond to these types of allegations by arguing that they are protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe harbor provisions, which say that Web sites are immune from liability for infringing material uploaded by users as long as the sites remove material upon request.
But UFC alleges that Justin.tv's procedures for responding to takedown notices aren't satisfactory. Although Justin.tv provides an online tool that's supposed to allow UFC to request the takedown of streams as they are occurring, that tool "does not always function correctly," UFC says in its complaint.
UFC, which offers paid broadcasts of wrestling matches, kickboxing competitions and the like, says Justin.tv should do more to prevent pirated material from ever appearing on its site -- including assigning employees to monitor the site and remove unauthorized streams, deploying an "algorithmic solution disabling potential copyright infringement," and using watermark technology to match user uploads against copyrighted material.
Viacom made a similar argument in its lawsuit against YouTube, contending that the video-sharing site should proactively use digital fingerprinting technology to prevent unauthorized clips from appearing. But U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton dismissed Viacom 's lawsuit last year, ruling that YouTube met its obligations under the DMCA because it removed user-uploaded clips upon request. Viacom is appealing that decision.
This lawsuit against Justin.tv isn't the first time that UFC has made it known it's unhappy about online copyright infringement. In December of 2009, UFC CEO and Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta testified at a House Judiciary Commitee hearing that Justin.tv and other streaming sites were "making fortunes by aiding in the theft of our content and making it available through their website."