Working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, the United States Attorney's Office of the Southern District of New York seized the web addresses of ten sites on Tuesday that could potentially be carrying out live streaming of the Super Bowl XLV, scheduled for Sunday, February 6.
While the websites shut down in the government sweep do not provide the actual content themselves, they do provide links to illegal video streams of copyrighted content for major professional sporting events for the National Football League, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League as well as for many worldwide sporting events.
Money is the major driving reasoning behind the decision to shut down the websites and this is especially of concern for Super Bowl live streaming, which could put a major dent in revenue for the NFL's biggest game of the year.
“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.”
Despite efforts to squelch illegal streaming of sporting events such as the Super Bowl, the process has proven to be a nearly insurmountable task given the broad nature of the internet as evidenced by another website caught up in the sweep, ATDHE.net.
Previously, ATDHE.net had provided numerous links to live streaming sporting and pay-per-view-events, as well as to national and cable subscription television programs.
Though the site was shutdown on Tuesday, the website has already been re-spawned at a new web address, ATDHE.me, which acknowledged the recent events involving the federal government:
“Our domain ATDHE.NET has been seized today (01/02/11). We are now using www.ATDHE.me but don't be alarmed, we will do our best to bring you back everything. Please use the links below to stream your live sports for now.”
“Please bookmark and save our new address www.ATDHE.me and help us spread the word.”
A quick glance at the ATDHE.me website shows over 4,000 online users and a number of links to live sporting events including live football and tennis matches along with links to scheduled broadcasts of upcoming NHL and NBA games.
Given the reality that one site pops up almost immediately after another is taken down, it remains to be seen if the federal government's efforts will have little, if any, impact on illegal live streaming sites.