The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) seized several websites that were illegally streaming sporting events over the web.
The news comes ahead of this week's Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. The websites were seized pursuant to a federal court order in the Southern District of New York.
This swift action by our HSI New York special agents and analysts sends a clear message to website operators who mistakenly believe it's worth the risk to take copyrighted programming and portray it as their own, ICE Director John Morton, said in a statement. Protecting legitimate business interests is a priority for HSI and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center and we will continue to aggressively investigate this type of crime with our law enforcement partners.
The websites provided a portal of links to pirated telecasts of National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, World Wrestling Entertainment, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship games and events. These types of broadcasts cost the leagues millions, according to ICE.
The illegal streaming of professional sporting events over the Internet deals a financial body blow to the leagues and broadcasters who are forced to pass their losses on to the fans in the form of higher priced tickets and pay-per-view events, said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, 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.
ICE said the portal websites were popular since they located illegal streams that would otherwise be more difficult to find. The websites now feature a banner that says the domain name has been seized by the New York office of ICE HSI because of criminal copyright violations.
The websites are atdhe.net, channelsurfing.net, hq-streams.com, hqstreams.net, firstrow.net, ilemi.com, iilemi.com, iilemii.com, rojadirecta.org and rojadirecta.com. Channel surfing appears to have gotten around the law by transferring to an .eu domain.