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UCLA Entertainment Law Review

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Let’s Get Ready to Unbundle! It’s Time for the UFC to Offer Individual Fights For Purchase

Abstract

A bedrock principle of U.S. Copyright law normally dictates that when a person steals your original work of authorship, a court should issue an injunction and require the violator to pay damages.  For centuries this principle has sufficed; however, a lack of deep-pocket defendants and continued lobbying efforts by internet service providers have made this principle untenable when applied to illegal online streaming.  This is especially true for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), a mixed martial arts promoter that has seen its live broadcasts pirated over the internet at an alarming rate, thereby threatening the bulk of its revenue.

This Comment advocates that the UFC unbundle its current pay-per-view business model in favor of charging market-based prices for each individual fight.  The primary benefit of this approach includes increased revenue for the UFC by enticing consumers away from illegal online streaming with lower prices.  Potential adjacent benefits include reforming fighter compensation schemes, incentivizing fighters to promote their own individual fights, easing controversies regarding unionization efforts by the fighters, and providing the UFC with greater marketing data.  Therefore, by unbundling its business model, the UFC will ultimately be able to bypass the shortcomings of U.S. Copyright law and take the lead in a digital media landscape already changing at lightning speeds.

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