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Feds Seize 10 Sports Websites Days Before Super Bowl

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Feb/02/2011
Feds Seize Sports Sites

U. S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York has seized 10 sports websites it says planned to promote the illegal streaming of the Super Bowl and other sporting events live, including pay-per-view events.  The office worked in conjunction with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  The seizure affidavit was unsealed Wednesday.

Some of the websites were based in countries outside the United States, including Spain-based rojadirecta.org.   Attempts to reach that website were met with the message:  “This Domain Name has been Seized by Homeland Securities Investigations”.  Another of the seized websites, ATDHE.net, has already managed to redirect traffic to a new Web address, ATDHE.me.

The sites in question provided links to other venues where the pirated content is hosted.

In the seizure affidavit, Government officials allege that the websites in question dig into the revenues of the professional sports leagues and broadcasters.

“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 off to fans by raising prices for tickets and pay-per-view events,” said Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. “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.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and ICE Director John Morton had warned that the two agencies were committed to going after more websites that offer copyrighted content illegally.

Critics have complained that the US Government is overstepping its boundaries by taking down websites it deems to be “unlawful”.

This issue is not just confined at the Federal level.  In October 2008, Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky, attempted to seize 141 online gambling domain names, some of which did not even accept customers from his state.  He claimed that the sites acted as “leaches to Kentucky’s own horse racing industry”. 

U. S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York has also been active in pursuing online poker payment processors during the last two years, cooperating with officials in the U.S. Attorney’s Office out of Baltimore, Maryland. 

- Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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