Just a little over four months ago, nearly 3 million people purchased PPV (pay-per-view) through Showtime and HBO to watch the so-called fight of the century. With a $100 pay-per-view price tag, both Showtime and HBO made upwards of $300 million. However, this number failed to mention the hundreds of thousands of times the fight was pirated on illegal websites. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo lambasted Periscope as the real “winner” of the fight and other network executives even said that this new “kind of technology is going have huge implications for broadcasters like NBC which has already paid billions for the [upcoming] Olympics.” Some have argued that services such as Periscope and Meerkat, which allow users to send their followers real-time videos of themselves or whatever they are observing, could cost networks millions of dollars.
Last month, Floyd Mayweather Jr. also tried to prevent this type of piracy before his upcoming match with Andre Berto. Along with Showtime, Mayweather filed suit against three “Jon Doe” defendants (ie. websites) who operate sites that had planned to stream the match for free. Recently, many networks have tried to preemptively obtain an injunction against future infringers and have successfully argued that “the work at issue is live [c]overage of a one-time live sporting event whose outcome is unknown.”
While we may never know who the real champ is, the events above present a very challenging problem to our society. On one side, we live in a society that is waiting for the next app to change the world we live in and on the other side we continue to maintain the highest regard for protecting one’s own work. The answer to what is right will never be easy, but what is easy to answer is that we must find a balance.