Three major American sports leagues, the UFC, NBA, and NFL, are calling for a faster takedown process for copyright infringing content under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). In a letter written to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the leagues argue that the current removal process is too slow and allows illegal sports livestreams to continue without consequence, resulting in significant revenue loss for the industry. They claim that the global sports industry is losing up to $28 billion due to fans watching pirated live feeds instead of paid ones.
The legal representatives for the UFC, NBA, and NFL expressed their concerns regarding the damage caused by rampant piracy of live sports events. They highlighted the fact that online service providers often take hours or even days to remove infringing content, allowing illegal sports streams to complete the event without any disruption. This is particularly harmful for the leagues since live sports content is time-sensitive and requires immediate action to protect their revenue.
The heart of their complaint lies in Section 512 of the DMCA, which specifies that infringing content must be removed “expeditiously.” The leagues argue that the wording should be revised to “instantaneously or near-instantaneously” to address their revenue problems effectively. They believe such a change would be a modest and non-controversial update that could be incorporated into the broader reforms being considered by Congress or addressed separately.
However, the letter does not address the issue of regional blackouts, which often lead viewers to seek pirated feeds as a way to bypass these restrictions. While the leagues are focusing on tackling livestream piracy, it is worth considering addressing other factors that may drive fans to illegal alternatives.
Furthermore, the leagues are also urging the USPTO to impose stricter requirements on online service providers regarding user verification. They propose measures such as blocking the ability to livestream from newly created accounts or accounts with few subscribers. They argue that certain online service providers already implement such measures, demonstrating their feasibility, practicality, and effectiveness in reducing livestream piracy.
Sending the letter to the USPTO is the first step taken by the UFC, NBA, and NFL to communicate their intent. However, achieving their desired changes to the DMCA will likely be a long and challenging process. The DMCA, signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1998, has faced numerous calls for revision over the years, with media companies demanding stricter measures and users criticizing it for granting copyright holders excessive power. Altering the DMCA would require Congress to pass a revised law, which is known to be a time-consuming and complex process.
In conclusion, the UFC, NBA, and NFL are lobbying for faster takedowns of copyright infringing content under the DMCA. They argue that the current process is too slow, resulting in significant revenue losses for the sports industry. While their focus is on combating livestream piracy, it is important to address other factors, such as regional blackouts, which may contribute to the popularity of illegal alternatives. The leagues also recommend stricter user verification measures for online service providers to effectively reduce livestream piracy. However, changing the DMCA requires congressional action, a process that is known to be challenging and time-consuming.