Pro-SOPA editorial may have led to hacking of UFC.com
January 22, 2012
The UFC’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence Epstein wrote an op-ed in Sunday’s Las Vegas Review Journal in defense of the UFC’s position in favor of SOPA. On the same day, the UFC web site was hacked in what is believed to be a response to the UFC’s position on the bill.
In addition to its support of the controversial SOPA bill, Epstein’s editorial argues in favor of the Protect IP Act (PIPA). A bill supported by Nevada Senator Harry Reid – a friend of the UFC.
Overall, Epstein’s piece attempts to find common themes that the reader would agree with (stealing is bad, it hurts the economy and hurts American businesses) before coming to his point that the UFC is against piracy of its PPVs. The piece uses the UFC as an example of a U.S. success story.
Via the Las Vegas Review Journal:
The UFC itself is an example of American innovation. The Fertitta brothers, who are Las Vegas natives, along with their friend, Dana White, co-founded today’s UFC by rescuing a dying company from bankruptcy. They cleaned up the sport by inviting clear, enforceable regulation of fighting events, put their own livelihoods on the line and created a new market (with thousands of jobs) where none existed prior. That is exactly the kind of entrepreneurial engine that our country needs, especially now.
The op-ed also indicates that the UFC “contributes more than $300 million” to the economy. It also argues that there must be a rule of law to regulate online sites from stealing from businesses like the UFC.
The timing of the op-ed piece is interesting considering the SOPA boycott occurred earlier this past week. As a result, a scheduled vote on SOPA this week has been put off. The UFC’s position on SOPA is of no surprise as Lorenzo Fertitta sent a letter of support to the bill’s sponsor last November. The WWE was another company in favor of the legislation.
Still, the placement of the editorial is interesting considering the timing. But the actual intent of the piece lacks persuasiveness. A better use of the editorial would be to acknowledge the strong opposition but assert the reasons why SOPA protects intellectual property rights of many companies including the UFC. It does get into its position a little. But mostly we get a broad American values editorial which carries no weight. While there are certain political lines that the UFC is trying to straddle with its position, it could have asserted its support of the controversial legislation while carving out its reasons. Since a big portion of the UFC’s target audience are those that would support a protest of SOPA, it would make sense for the UFC to explain itself in better detail.
As some believe, Sunday’s “hacking” of UFC.com could have been a result of the UFC’s position. While the UFC will be concerned from an online security perspective, it should also look at it from a PR perspective. For the UFC, this may not be as easy as it seems. The UFC has been aggressive in its stance against illegal streaming and distribution of its fights. In supporting SOPA and PIPA, it sees legislation that can assist in its fight against online piracy. But, opposition to the laws, which include many young, internet savvy individuals – the same people that likely follow Dana White and many other UFC fighters on twitter, utilize social media and embrace the online community oppose the restrictions that would come with the proposed laws. We will see how SOPA and PIPA will evolve and if the UFC will continue to support it.