After 2012 death of UFC backed SOPA, Obama administration still looking to make online streaming a felony

USA TODAY Sports

The UFC strongly backed SOPA before the hated bill was struck down in 2012. They may get what they wanted though as the Obama administration is recommending turning the viewing of copyrighted materials a felony.

The Stop Online Piracy Act died in 2012 in the face of widespread public loathing and a concentrated effort from several major corporations and websites. One of the big backers of the bill was the UFC, both contributing considerable amounts of money in lobbying for the bill's passage and through Lorenzo Fertitta writing letters to SOPA's co-author Lamar Smith.

One of the problems many saw at the time with the UFC's support of the bill was the seeming detachment from the true effect that the bill would have. Dana White said after UFC on Fox 2 "Is SOPA the perfect bill? No, it's not. The only thing that we're focused on is piracy. Piracy is stealing. If you walk into a store and steal a fucking gold watch, it's the same as stealing a pay-per-view. I don't care what your twisted, demented idea of stealing is. These kids grew up on the Internet never had to pay for anything, so they don't think they should have to."

Ignoring the complete bill and only focusing on the piracy aspects led to a run-in between Dana White, online activist group Anonymous and some associated "hackers." The UFC website was hacked, Dana called them terrorists and eventually one of the "hackers" released "dox" on White, including his social security number among other information.

If the UFC's only concern was online streaming of their PPV events, they might be in luck as now the Obama administration is endorsing a major change in making streaming of copyrighted materials a felony.

The Washington Post reports:

You probably remember the online outrage over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) copyright enforcement proposal. Last week, the Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force released a report on digital copyright policy that endorsed one piece of the controversial proposal: making the streaming of copyrighted works a felony.

As it stands now, streaming a copyrighted work over the Internet is considered a violation of the public performance right. The violation is only punishable as a misdemeanor, rather than the felony charges that accompany the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted material.

...

The Commerce Department report recommends "[a]dopting the same range of penalties for criminal streaming of copyrighted works to the public as now exists for criminal reproduction and distribution," adding that "[s]ince the most recent updates to the criminal copyright provisions, streaming (both audio and video) has become a significant if not dominant means for consumers to enjoy content online."

As it stands, the current laws make the duplication of materials a bigger offense than just viewing the material.

This would change that in a major way and could have the impact that the UFC has been seeking for years.

On its face, it seems ridiculous to make streaming a movie or PPV sports event a felony, but lobbyists have a way of getting the ridiculous to a vote.

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