YouTube star Jake Paul has warned fans they risk being arrested by the FBI if they illegally watch a free live stream of his fight on Thursday against AnEsonGib.
The controversial internet celebrity also claimed it would be impossible for people to find pirated streams of the bout online, despite recent high-profile contests being plagued by piracy.
Paul will follow in the footsteps of his brother Logan by stepping into a boxing ring under professional rules, with the fight set to be streamed on Dazn in the US and broadcast on Sky Sports in the UK.
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“Dazn has hundreds of employees that are stripping down illegal streams of the fight so you’re not going to be able to watch it illegally, so don’t even try,” Paul said in a video promoting the fight.
“Plus if you’re illegally streaming it, the FBI will show up at your house.”
November’s fight between Paul’s brother Logan and Olajide ‘KSI’ Olatunji was also hosted on Dazn, however that did not stop the spread of pirated streams in the hours building up to the fight.
The sports streaming platform does not offer free trials and is not a pay-per-view service, meaning anyone who wants to watch the fight legally in the US or Canada will need to sign up for a monthly subscription ($20) or an annual pass ($100).
This cost could be prohibitively expensive for two fighters with such a young fan base and will likely result in a similar demand for free links to the fight.
Every single major fight spectacle over the last year has been caught up in the scourge of online piracy, which some experts said reached “peak levels” in 2019.
Illegal live streams have become increasingly easy to find, often shared across social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in the buildup to contests, as well as on Reddit forums dedicated to sharing content.
Websites hosting such content can also be found through popular online search engines, while hundreds of apps also offer an avenue to watch free streams.
Paul’s law enforcement warning is also way off the mark, with very few instances of people consuming content actually being caught.
Risks are instead largely on the side of the people hosting the pirated streams, who authorities are attempting to crack down upon.
Watching pirated streams may be illegal but technologies like virtual private networks (VPN) allow people to hide and protect their online identity.
“Viewers find it simple – no need to register or be tech savvy to use and feel invisible,” Wayne Lonstein, CEO of anti-piracy firm VFT Solutions, recently told The Independent.
According to Mr Lonstein, one way of combatting the issue is to make legitimate ways of watching more accessible. “Wise companies are using models where pricing makes it not worth the risk,” he said.
Jake Paul vs Gib is set to start on Thursday at around 11pm ET (4am GMT, Friday), though times could vary depending on how long the undercards last.