(We know exactly how you feel, Rich. / Props: @zprophet_mma)
By George Shunick
Over the past year, IronForgesIron.com has become an integral part of the online MMA community, in no small part due to the .gifs made by current site owner Zombie Prophet. These .gifs capture moments in the sport that can represent the highlights of a fight, or epitomize the character contained in its content. These .gifs take time and effort to make, and money to host online, but that hasn’t stopped ZP from pursuing his craft and contributing to the sport in his own way. So where time, effort, and money have failed, the UFC is apparently more than happy to step in. Yesterday, the UFC threatened IronForgesIron with litigation pertaining to copyright infringement, citing Zombie Prophets’ .gifs as “unauthorized videos.”
The email, from Edward Muncey, Vice-President of New Media & Technology, reads:
“Dear representative of Ironforgesiron.com and Softlayer.com,
We are absolutely confident that the web pages through the links below are participating in contributory copyright infringement by embedding unauthorized videos in the form of .gif’s from UFC 147. Below, I have provided the URLs of the web pages on your website containing the embedded .gif’s displaying unauthorized video of UFC 147. Please remove all embedded .gif’s immediately. Description of copyrighted work: UFC 147”
Since this has been made public, all of the UFC 147 .gifs have been taken down. Zombie Prophet has issued a statement on the matter, clarifying that he would be removing advertisements from the site so as not to profit off of the UFC’s copyrighted material. As a result, all the funding IronForgesIron will receive going forward will be from donations. ZP also thanked his supporters, and explained how making and hosting .gifs isn’t as easy as we might think it is:
“When i first started making gifs…i would host “teh gifs” on tinypic. back then they did not have a size limit. about a year after starting the gifs tinypic changed their policy and i had to find another host. At the time finding an unlimited host was hard unless you paid for hosting and that’s what i had to do and have been doing since. YES I PAY TO MAKE AND HOST THE GIFS YOU ENJOY!
A little more than a year ago i joined IFI and later became its owner. with that came more money being spent just to post and make gifs. none the less i couldnt afford doing this for long being on disability and had to put ads on here to cover the thousand ive spent making and hosting gifs for the last 4 years and IFI for the last year.
As of recent i was told by the UFC to remove some gifs which i have. i also got a sick amount of support from many many friends i never knew i had but i also got a lot of hate, accusations of making money off the UFC and death threats. From i could gather some people think IFI make mad money because of the ads. So i decided to remove them and go back to donations only.” [emphases mine]
Let’s be clear; if you send someone hate mail and death threats for providing an appreciated service to a community at his or her own expense just because you feel like a certain massive corporation is being somewhat less-than-appropriately compensated by said individual, do us all a favor. Please close this page and the German schizer porn you’ve got on in the background, step away from your computer, and go chug the nearest bottle of Drano. If you need a chaser, try some laundry detergent. Thanks.
Yes, IronForgesIron uses copyrighted material and makes a profit off of it. But suing them because is such a disproportionate response that it has the potential to do more harm to the UFC brand than hosting .gifs ever could. Hell, those .gifs could be considered advertisements for the sport, because they effectively communicated the most exciting, visceral moments to a broad audience. It’s not like they caused the UFC to lose money, or compete with the non-existent UFC .gif website. IronForgesIron doesn’t hurt the UFC financially; shitty cards and public relations fiascos — like, you know, suing a dude on disability — hurt the UFC financially.
As for Edward Muncey, Vice President of the Internet, you need to get your priorities in order. Instead of needlessly bullying websites, how about you put some of that time into that Twitter account you made three years ago. You got off to such a promising start with witty, intellectual retorts like “Me! Me! Me!” I can see why the UFC hired you; you’ve got a strong grasp of what appears to be the company mantra. But maybe more time on Twitter — or just interacting with your company’s fanbase in a manner that doesn’t involve legal intimidation — will give you a better understanding that the relationship between a company and consumers isn’t just built on services provided, but also upon the manner in which a company acknowledges and respects those consumers. Just because you can sue the shit out of a pillar of the MMA community doesn’t mean you should.