Zuffa LLC alleges copyright and trademark infringement due to the site's "rampant and illegal uploading" of live UFC pay-per-view events.
An attorney for Zuffa LLC said the organization gave the website a chance to comply.
"Zuffa has attempted to work on numerous occasions with Justin.tv over nearly a two-year period to encourage it to prevent or limit its infringing activities," Zuffa's Las Vegas attorney, Donald J. Campbell, stated in a press release. "Regrettably, Justin.tv has not only turned a blind eye to the massive online piracy occurring on its website, we believe it has actually induced its users to commit copyright infringement thus leaving Zuffa no alternative but to take this fight to the courts."
The UFC is the largest provider of PPV content in the world with 145 countries and territories receiving the events.
As MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) previously reported, the UFC first amped up its fight against online piracy this past July. After reaching "confidential settlements" with more than 500 businesses and individuals as a result of illegal broadcasts and viewing of UFC events. Officials then subpoenaed Justin.tv and Ustream.tv – two sites with user-provided live video content – due to their broadcasts of illegally uploaded UFC content. Zuffa demand they reveal the identities of users who uploaded UFC content.
Despite the efforts, today's announcement alleges that more than 50,000 people watched live Justin.tv streams of October's UFC 121 event. Third-party contractors hired and paid for by Zuffa removed more than 200 infringing live streams of UFC 121 from the site, according to the release.
The UFC annually offers approximately a dozen PPV offerings and in 2009 earned an estimated $350 million in PPV revenue. The events cost $44.95 each ($55.95 for the HD version) both via cable/satellite providers and via official online outlets.
Currently, the promotion has just a handful of authorized online PPV affiliates – UFC.com, Yahoo! Sports and MMAFighting.com, for example – who charge the same $44.95 fee. Lawrence Epstein, the UFC's general legal counsel, said the Internet price is mandated by the promotion's contract with pay-per-view providers such as DirecTV and DISH Network and cannot be lowered.
All other outlets – including those who charge a discounted fee – are doing so illegally, Epstein said.