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Feds blitz websites streaming live sports before Super Bowl

February 2, 2012 |  5:09 pm

Tom Brady practices.Days before the Super Bowl, federal authorities blitzed more than a dozen websites illegally streaming live sporting events.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other agencies announced Thursday that they had seized 16 websites and brought criminal charges against a Michigan man who operated nine of them.

Yonjo Quiroa, 28, of Comstock Park, Mich., was arrested Wednesday and charged with criminal copyright infringement. Authorities said he operated websites that streamed pirated telecasts of live sports, including some pay-per-view events. Those included games from the NFL, NBA and NHL as well as World Wrestling Entertainment. Quiroa received $13,000 in profit from the illegal sites, authorities said.

"This enforcement action ... sends a strong 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.

U.S. Atty. Preet Bharara, Southern District of New York, added: "These websites and their operators deprive sports leagues and networks of legitimate revenue, forcing spectators and viewers to bear the cost of this piracy down the line."

The arrest was part of a larger crackdown, coming days before the Super Bowl, in which federal law enforcement officials seized more than $4.8 million in fake NFL merchandise, including T-shirts, jackets and other souvenirs, from flea markets, stores and vendors nationwide.

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-- Richard Verrier 

Photo: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws during practice on Wednesday in Indianapolis. The Patriots are scheduled to face the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday. Credit: Mark Humphrey / Associated Press

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