UFC hits Staten Island man with a $40 million civil suit for ripping off copyrighted content

May 1, 2014


UFC hits Staten Island man with a $40 million civil suit for ripping off copyrighted content

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A mixed martial arts fan from Great Kills could be in the ultimate fight of his life.

Twenty-seven-year-old Steven A. Messina is being sued for approximately $40 million by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), which contends he pirated 141 pay-per-view events.

The civil suit, filed Tuesday in Brooklyn, states that Messina obtained the broadcasts through Internet websites and pay-per-view purchase intended for private, non-commercial use, over a seven-month period, from May 20, 2012 through Dec. 29, 2013.

According to court documents, he then illegally uploaded the mixed-martial arts broadcasts to file-sharing sites, like PirateBay, for users to view, download, access, share and distribute.

He even provided a Pay Pal donation link to help finance his illegal operation, in the name of “MMA Capping Fund! Help Me Cap PPV!”

Messina used the profile name “Secludedly” on the various websites, but UFC investigators hunted him down.

The suit claims Messina and his co-defendants were intent on becoming some of the most well-known online pirates by making their mark on the major torrent websites available on the Internet. Messina encouraged online users to help them to “keep ripping” copyrighted content, the suit states.

The accused brazen bootleggers knew they were stealing copyrighted material, the suit states.

The suit reads, “… such infringements and violations were committed willfully and for purposes of Defendants’ direct or indirect private financial gain and commercial advantage.”

In a seemingly cocky move against the popular wrestling company, Messina and his cronies even proclaimed themselves “Provider of best MMA & Boxing rips online!”

UFC fought back, though, and hit the piraters with the hefty lawsuit.

“They have allowed infringement to go unchecked, content to profit handsomely from user payments and donations to fund their rampant piracy and copyright infringement,” the suit states, calling the offenses a “massive and blatant infringement of its copyrighted works.”

UFC pay-per-view events continue to be one of the largest-grossing events on television, with well over 1 million buys on many of its events, especially the bigger matches, according to online figures.

One of the pay-per-views Messina is accused of pirating, for example, aired on Dec. 28, 2013, and drew 1.1 million television purchases from fans. Another event the trio allegedly pirated, UFC 158, earned the same number of buys.

Despite its popularity, MMA is still illegal in New York state, though advocates continue to push hard for a change in the law. In June of last year, professional mixed martial arts fighters rallied on the steps of Borough Hall in St. George to promote their cause.

Messina declined comment when reached at his home Wednesday evening.

–Advance staff writer Ryan Lavis contributed to this report



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