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Sports Organizations Fighting Live Streaming Piracy

Executives with Major League Baseball and the UFC were in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to discuss the increasing problem of live streaming of its sporting events to the Internet.

Ultimate Fighting Championship logo
Ultimate Fighting Championship logo

It’s an interesting issue when you consider that the popular sites like Justin.tv, which has featured millions of hours of live content, contend that they are just the middle man and therefore can’t be held responsible for everything that is posted by its users to its site.

UFC chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, who testified on behalf of the mixed martial arts league on Wednesday, told CNBC that live streaming to the Web is a major concern, but it’s also hard to deal with.

“These sites provide us with a tool to take live streams down,” Fertitta said. “But for our last fight, there were 160,000 streams going.”

As the sports organization that has the most pay-per-view buys –- approximately seven million in 2009 –- Fertitta says protecting the intellectual property is an essential investment. He said the UFC employs people during fights to take live streaming off sites.

Why hasn’t there been a huge lawsuit on this issue? Fertitta says if the UFC sued one site, it would just re-establish itself using another domain name and continue to operate. With $70 worth of equipment a television and a computer, Fertitta says anyone can attempt to stream events to the Web.

But just because it’s easy to do and easier to watch thanks to growing bandwidth, that doesn’t mean sports organizations aren’t going to continue to fight against piracy.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com