Showtime Sues to Stop Pirating of Mayweather-McGregor Fight

The Aug. 26 fight will be shown live on pay-per-view but dozens of websites are already promoting unauthorized streams.
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Floyd Mayweather Jr. (left) and Conor McGregor

Undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and UFC champion Conor McGregor are set to face off later this month in a highly anticipated pay-per-view event — and Showtime Networks is already suing in an attempt to keep pirated streams at bay.

While high-stakes boxing events typically draw substantial viewers, this one has a novel twist. Mayweather is 49-0 and came out of retirement to take on McGregor in his first-ever boxing match after nearly 10 years as a professional mixed martial arts fighter. The Irish MMA star is also a decade younger than the boxer — but will have to play by different rules than he's used to and if he puts a toe out of bounds, he'll be disqualified.

Showtime is suing to stop more than 40 websites from airing an unauthorized stream of the fight. The sites are "all currently formatted as Mayweather v. McGregor blogs populated with articles that are stuffed with keywords related to the fight," writes attorney Dennis Wilson. "Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have engaged in such keyword stuffing as a form of search engine optimization in an effort to attract as much web traffic as possible in the form of Internet users searching for a way to access a live stream of the Fight."

Because of this strategy, the pay cabler argues, several of the potentially infringing sites appear in the top Google search results. The network says it expects the sites to be populated with links to sites offering the live stream right before the fight is broadcast.

Showtime is asking the court for an injunction to stop defendants and any of their partners or licensees from making the fight available for viewing or transferring their websites to another registrant or registrar.

This isn't the first time the network has sued to preemptively stop pirates. In fact, Mayweather's last major fight — his controversial 2015 defeat of Manny Pacquaio that spawned a series of litigation arising from an undeclared shoulder injury — prompted a similar suit. There, Showtime and HBO sued for "anticipated" copyright infringement — and the court granted a temporary injunction. It ordered the sites to be taken offline prior to the start of the fight through the next morning.

Time will tell if Showtime can score back-to-back wins on this front; until then, the complaint is posted below.

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