By Zach Arnold | November 29, 2011
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.
- Boing Boing: Sign the petition against SOPA/Protect IP and Ron Wyden will read your name into the Congressional record in an epic filibuster
- Techdirt: The definitive post on why SOPA and Protect IP are bad, bad ideas
- Open Congress: Why SOPA and Protect IP are so hard to kill
- Techdirt: SOPA/Protect IP would be hideously bad for video gamers (and online video sites)
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.
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.”