Music Execs Streaming Pirated NFL Games as DOJ Seizes Hundreds of Similar Websites

Written by:
Alejandro Botticelli
Published on:
Feb/10/2012
Music Execs Streaming Pirated NFL Games as DOJ Seizes Hundreds of Websites

The music industry has been behind a massive push to knock file sharing and download websites offline while engaging in the same practice they condemn last week.

VEVO, a music portal owned by a few major record labels in the US reportedly had a pirated NFL playoff game playing on screens throughout its ‘PowerStation’ venue at last week’s Sundance festival, according to TechCrunch.

One of the record execs tried to explain the situation away on the VEVO blog.  Rio Caraeff wrote: 

A guest of our lounge asked for an NFL game to be aired. We said no. There was a laptop hooked up to VEVO.com that fed into the large TV screens around the bar. Unfortunately, the laptop was easily accessible to the public. That was our mistake for not making sure the laptop was more secure. While VEVO staff was in other areas of the venue, the game was put on – via a website transmitting ESPN’s broadcast of the NFL game – without our permission or knowledge.

As soon as we realized the game was airing to the room, we removed it and went back to playing VEVO videos. The game was not aired in its entirety. Rest assured, we rectified this mistake as soon as we became aware what was going on.

What happened was unfortunate and we can’t take back what happened.

Around this very same time, the U.S. Justice Department was seizing over 300 website domains alleged to be illegally streaming NFL games and/or selling knockoff merchandise.  Even New England Patriots starting quarterback Tom Brady admitted he had patronized one of the seized websites in order to gain access to last year’s Super Bowl while in Costa Rica on vacation.   

The record companies themselves have been behind efforts to pass legislation in Congress that would allow easy seizures of websites engaging in free file sharing and streaming of music and videos.

Jason Kincaid of TechCrunch.com cast doubt on Caraeff’s explanation

I don’t have any proof to indicate that what Caraeff writes is incorrect, but I’m raising my eyebrow at this explanation. The game was playing the entire time I was at the PowerStation — this wasn’t just a brief blip — and it was playing on several screens, so it was hard to miss, too. After all, one of the key aims of this event was to feature VEVO videos, it wasn’t as if these screens were hidden in a corner.

The online gambling sector was the first to get caught up in the website domain seizure war.  Its battle-ready attorneys, some of the best in the biz, prevented over 150 industry-related domains from seizure by the Kentucky Commonwealth in 2008 only to have three of the largest Internet poker room domains – Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and UB.com – seized last April by the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York. 

- Alejandro Botticelli, Gambling911.com

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