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UFC’s Love/Hate relationship the with First Amendment

By Zach Arnold | November 29, 2011

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Congress has passed a lot of hideous laws but none has generated as much fury online from all sides of the political aisle than the Protect IP/Stop Online Piracy Act, which Big Hollywood and companies like the UFC have publicly supported.

This legislation is so bad that it will make you want to rush to aid groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation. This Constitutional assault on the internet freedoms of Americans is horribly egregious. UFC has been aggressive in their anti-piracy efforts to proverbially use a hammer to kill an ant. That’s what happens when your core business model is based on PPV revenue.

Our friend Robert Joyner (@robnashville) brings up UFC’s support for SOPA/Protect IP as the company’s height of hypocrisy because of their recent New York lawsuit filing to overturn the state’s ban on Mixed Martial Arts based on First Amendment rights.

(View the text of the lawsuit right here.)

That brings us to this commentary by Eddie Goldman:

“I’ve always felt that the ban on combative sports was preposterous and I also think that this lawsuit is preposterous. The ban was preposterous because UFC, under SEG at the time, was more than willing to negotiate with the New York State Athletic Commission over the rules and they would have compromised but it was New York state at the time that didn’t want to compromise. They had Floyd Patterson as the head of the NYSAC, the former great Heavyweight boxing champion, but as it soon came out in the legal documents and in the deposition, Floyd was suffering from dementia and was unfortunately incapable of properly running the NYSAC. You can go back and look at the news articles, he couldn’t remember the Governor who appointed him which of course was George Pataki. He couldn’t remember when he had won his Heavyweight title and all that. It was sad. It was dementia caused from his fighting but he shouldn’t have been put into the position as the head of the commission. In fact, that’s another reason why sports like boxing and MMA should have unions and health care and pension plans and all of that.

“So, the ban went on and still is in effect and as of 2012 it will be 15 years since it has been in place. However, to hope that you’re going to get this changed by a lawsuit talking about the First Amendment is also preposterous. Mixed Martial Arts is subject to government regulation as are boxing and kickboxing and Muay Thai and other sports like that because they are forms of fighting. Fighting is otherwise illegal. It’s different from basketball or hockey or doing a play where you’re simulating fighting or killing or blowing things up or a movie or a TV show or any of that. It’s actual fighting. It’s real fighting. And presumably, anyways, it seems they want to keep it real fighting. If it’s otherwise an illegal activity, if it’s otherwise assault and you want to put it on as a sport, it then has to be regulated because there is no history of promoters having proper regulation in boxing or Mixed Martial Arts or really any other combat sport. That’s the history for the last century and those are the conditions under which boxing was legalized in New York in 1920 and legalized in many, many places as well.

“To try to cover this up and talk about a lot of things which are obviously correct, the relative safety of being regulated and all this, is all beside the point. What you’re going to do to get New York to pass the law that will legalize it, really re-legalize MMA because it was officially legalized in the Fall of ‘96 and a few months later the Legislature really illegally overturned that law because they’re really not supposed to overturn a law on that short of a notice unless there was some type of emergency like a war or some major catastrophe, not because Guiliani and the New York Times didn’t like it which was what happened. But, in any case, the way you’re going to overturn that law is fighting against these politicians, particularly Sheldon Silver (the Speaker of the Assembly) and a handful of others is blocking this bill from coming to a vote, from getting through all the committees and coming to a vote on the floor of the Assembly. It’s passed a bunch of times in the Senate and many Assembly members have told us and the Coalition to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York that if it came to a vote, an up-or-down vote in the Assembly, it would pass. But Silver doesn’t like it.

“Now, one thing that is complicating this, of course, is the issue of message… But they started talking about the message that is put out by Mixed Martial Arts. Well, the message that’s put out by UFC is very bad and they opened a can worm. The discussion we had last time about the women’s demonstration that was held in front of the UFC HQ about the Forrest Griffin tweet, making a joke about rape. The message that comes out of UFC is anti-social and to promote anti-social behavior from it’s Ultimate Fighter television show, from the fake Good Guy vs. Bad Guy persona which is promoted and all the other negativity that comes out that organization. If they want to raise the issue of message, they’re going to lose. In fact, the way Mixed Martial Arts will win will be by clearly pointing that legalizing MMA in New York will not be synonymous with just legalizing Zuffa. Of course, they’ll run a couple of shows here but I can guarantee you that within a year, maybe two, they’ll be shows virtually every weekend and the commission is going to need more administrative help to regulate those shows and within a year there will be more MMA shows in the state of New York than there will be boxing, maybe even in a shorter period of time. And only, what, one, two, three, whatever will be Zuffa and there will be dozens and dozens of other shows of bigger and smaller sizes. I’m sure Bellator would love to run and there would be many local and new organizations would develop here as well. I can imagine M-1 wanting to run in New York state in maybe the city of New York.

“So, to raise this First Amendment argument is an absolute diversion. It’s preposterous and actually what it implies is that there should not be regulation of Mixed Martial Arts by the government because other First Amendment activity, freedom of expression, are not regulated by the government under the First Amendment of the US Constitution. That’s implicit here. So, it’s absurd and it’s not the way to fight against this ridiculous (MMA) ban.”

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 23 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

23 Responses to “UFC’s Love/Hate relationship the with First Amendment”

  1. Jonathan Snowden says:

    That’s a lot of space for some bad analysis from Eddie Goldman. It’s like allowing a forum for 9/11 Truthers. Why do it?

    • Mr.roadblock says:

      Anytime Eddie Goldman is quoted here I just skip past it.

      • Megatherium says:

        It’s funny, Eddie used to be the UFC’s white night, running a seemingly one man crusade against PRIDE and defending UFC at every turn in his old magazine columns, and sounding very much like 45 Huddle does here.

        Hardly seems like the same man.

        • Mr.Roadblock says:

          Eddie was/is friends with Bob Meyrowitz the crook used to run UFC. Bob sold the company to the Fertitta bros and Dana. They used their position on the NSAC to drive the price down by telling Meyrowitz they weren’t going to sanction MMA in Nevada. That’s why Goldman hates UFC now and bags on it any chance he gets.

          There’s no question the Zuffa gang scumbagged Meyrowitz. But make no mistake, Meyrowitz is a lying thief and a dirtbag himself. In the typical boxing promoter mold. UFC would not be anywhere near what it is to day if Zuffa hadn’t taken it over.

      • Megatherium says:

        Ya, that’s all true, but Eddie did stay on in his white night role through the early Zuffa honeymoon period when they were making nice with the grassroots mma community. It wasn’t until the leadup to the UFC33 breakthrough disaster when they turfed all the old semaphore people and cut off his and everybody elses press access that he turned heel.

  2. Coyote says:

    PPV model, i just laught with that, why the americans pay for something that can be free?
    In Mexico, Boxing goes to the grave just when they star with the PPV model.

    But yeah, America, the land of freedom and rights. “Copy Rights”.

  3. Phil says:

    Goldman is blinded by his UFC hate. The UFC isn’t saying the government can’t regulate it, they are saying the government can’t ban it.

    The three branches of government balance each other out. UFC has failed on the legislative route, so now they are trying another way.

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    What this bill is doing is giving a gut check to the Tech Industry and a small but active group on “consumers”. These people think you can just take whatever you want without consquences.

    Consumers don’t have a right to steal a UFC PPV. They don’t have a right to download whatever movie they want.

    At the end of the day, if any provisions in this bill are too far reaching, the courts will knock them back.

    As for DRM…. The music industry gave up on it. The movie industry will eventually scale back on it. They already tried to implement UltraViolet which is such a pain for consumers that they are already feeling the backlash. Consumer backlash is the best weapon here, and always the most effective.

    But the internet really should not be a haven for piracy. That era needs to end.

    And Eddie Goldman’s opinion is useless. He cannot stand the guys behind Zuffa and takes every opportunity to go after them in the most illogical ways possible.

    • Coyote says:

      The problem here is not only movies and entertainment, what about medicines and technology. Really who speak about the copyright without the real info is just a dumb. ┬┐You know Brazil have cero rights properities for medicine? the same for China. The behind the curtain of this SOPA thing.

      The problem here is that another entities are behind this shit for rights (Music, movies, ppv).

      Keep internet neutral.

      Who buys PPV is gonna buy PPV, who make piracy, is gonna make it, any time, any day.

    • PL Allie says:

      Last time the DOJ attacked websites, the solution was to created a p2p dns system where anyone could create a website. Pirated content and child porn heaven.

      http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/11/fed-up-with-icann-pirate-bay-cofounder-floats-p2p-dns-system.ars

      This would be the internet equivalent of prohibition.

      • Mr.roadblock says:

        Exactly right. This is bad legislation that is on par with the PATRIOT Act. In the name of chasing bad guys who are breaking existing laws he Feds are given immense power over everyone. It is precisely the opposite of the values our country was founded on.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Our country was founded by a bunch of rich, white, male slave owners who didn’t want to pay taxes to the British anymore. Our founding fathers have nothing to do with any sort of discussion today.

          Once in a while I read a bad news story about somebody being treated poorly by this country. But then I remember that we have 300 Million people in this country, so it only takes the tinest fraction to make things sound badly in the news.

          I hear cries about laws, and yet I have yet to see any real change in my daily life or the daily life of the people I know.

          Hardly room for concern. All it will take is for one poor old grandmother to be charged with pirating, and the movie industry will receive enough backlash that things will stop cold in their tracks. Same types of thing happened with the music industry…. Laws aren’t going to change that.

        • mr. roadblock says:

          45, you’re putting your GED on display.

          It’s sad that many people in our country are also the result of a poor education like yourself.

          The “taxes” argument could be refuted by minor research. The real issue pre-1776 is that the elite owned all of the land. Working people were forced into servitude by needing permission to hunt, farm or own a business from the aristocracy. At the top you had a hereditary monarchy and then their relatives and friends who owned large swaths of land granted to them by the kings and queens.

          At the founding of America there were two very large problems that hadn’t been resolved. 1. Slavery 2. the lack of voting rights for women and blacks. The mechanism to right both of those egregious ills was put into the constitution. They were both fixed in time.

          Corporations (who now own the government) have replaced the aristocracy. The working class is now subjected to the whims of the elites as bad, if not worse, than they were pre-1776.

          “I hear cries about laws, and yet I have yet to see any real change in my daily life or the daily life of the people I know.”

          You must not know very many people. Or any small business owners.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Poor education? Only 30% of Americans have Bachelor Degrees. Being in the Top 30% is hardly GED material.

          We as Americans spend less money on clothes, cars, food, and many of the other expenses compared to our counterparts 30 years ago. These are all due to corporations decreasing the costs of these goods over time. I’m not exactly the biggest fan of corporations in America, but they aren’t pure evil either.

          The major increase in expenses are housing, health care, and education.

          Housing is not a product of the elite keeping the little man down. It’s the little man thinking that his house is an investment vehicle which drove up the house prices. And it was the government trying to help TOO MANY poor people buy houses. When in fact the majority of people should not be home owners. The major issue with the banks lending bad loans to people who should not qualify has gone away under the current economy. Things are naturally fixing themselves, as they do with most economic cycles.

          Medical Costs are the major issue that are keeping the little man down. It needs to be changed. No other way to say it.

          And education costs spiraled out of control by a combination of the elite and the regular everyday person. It was put out of wack by the elite when Clinton basically gave money away from the government (low interest loans) in order to increase the number of college graduates. It wasn’t some planned elitist scheme. It just started colleges being used to an influx of money and it got out of control from there. That will be fixed in time.

          But to say that the working class is not at the whim of corporations just isn’t true….

  5. 45 Huddle says:

    Ellenberger vs. Sanchez on the first ever FUEL TV card. Should be interesting to see how that does. I’m sure FOX has a 1 or 2 year plan to use these types of cards to get FUEL into more homes for the future, so it could be a growing experience.

    I already have FUEL, but I would like to see it in HD. just like with Bellator, MMA in standard def is for the birds….

  6. Dave says:

    Oh man, I think that people like 45 are missing why SOPA is a big deal. It isn’t about the piracy stuff that people are upset about. Sure, that has to be a part of it for a lot, but the big deal is allowing the government to have control over what websites we are not allowed to view.

    The reason right now is to block piracy and to make sure people can’t access sites like Pirate Bay and whatever else. As shitty as that sounds, there are not limitations to the bill that would stop there. I don’t want a government firewall in place, I want the government to leave me alone and not hinder me as long as I’m not doing something illegal.

    If they want to take down those sites, target them and take them down, but don’t block me from existing sites. This is unconstitutional.

  7. Michael Rome says:

    How is it hypocrisy for a company to pursue its best interests? I mean, it’s almost comical to try to go after a business for supporting legislation that helps them and attacking legislation that hurts them.

    Newsflash: the UFC is not acting as a constitutional law professor writing in Harvard Law Review.

    • edub says:

      Backing this legislation, while filing a lawsuit invoking the amendment that said legislation would shit all over.

      He’s not saying the lone act of backing the legislation is hypocritical.

      • Michael Rome says:

        Hypocrisy is a nonsense charge against a business. Generally made by people who have never been in one.

        • Zach Arnold says:

          Newsflash — I’ve been in a business, have run one, and done accounting for one.

          It’s hypocritical. Perhaps not as hypocritical as Congress involved in ‘legal’ insider trading which the rest of us couldn’t do with the SEC around, but certainly high hypocrisy by Zuffa nevertheless.

  8. Michael Rome says:

    That being said, the IP legislation is horrendous.

  9. [...] not surprising given the ham-handedness of the company’s current Public Relations strategy. We first wrote about UFC’s love/hate relationship with the First Amendment on November 29th. Between this and overplaying their hand against ESPN on the fighter pay issue, [...]

  10. [...] White is not helping his own cause. I stated last November that his stance on backing SOPA & ProtectIP would become a demerit used against him. Then the [...]

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