February 3, 2011

Illegal US Sports Sites Shut Down

US prosecutors said Wednesday that they have seized 10 popular websites used to illegally stream live and pay-per-view sporting events over the Internet.

The move comes just five days before Super Bowl XLV.

Prosecutors said the sites provide links to give users easy access to other sites that host pirated telecasts from the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc and Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The seizures were justified because the websites were used to "facilitate criminal copyright infringement," Daniel Brazier, a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in an affidavit.

Prosecutors estimate that sports leagues and broadcasters lose millions of dollars annually from illegal streaming of sporting events.

The illegal service "deals a financial body blow to the leagues and broadcasters who are forced to pass their losses off to fans by raising prices for tickets and pay-per-view events," Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, told Reuters in a statement.

"With the Super Bowl just days away, the seizures of these infringing websites reaffirm our commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to protect copyrighted material and put the people who steal it out of business," Bharara added.

Prosecutors are pushing for the websites involved to forfeit their domain names. Visitors to those websites on Wednesday would see banners announcing that seizures had taken place.

The case is U.S. v. The Following Domain Names: HQ-Streams.com et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.


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