Federal officials have seized the domain names of 10 websites accused of illegally streaming live pay-per-view sporting events.
The move stems from the Operation in our Sites initiative, under which Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials disrupt websites accused of selling or distributing counterfeit goods and copyrighted works. Under the initiative, feds seize internet addresses with no prior warning to the owners, many of whom are located outside US borders.
The 10 so-called linking sites offered a smorgasbord of live feeds of wrestling, basketball, hockey, and other types of contests as the games were in progress. One alleged site, hq-streams.com, also offered a continuous loop of World Wrestling Entertainment matches, according to court documents unsealed on Wednesday. The site allegedly displayed ads on the bottom of webpages showing the streams, and also offered premium views ranging in price from $3 for a three-day pass to $25 for three months.
The seizures come four days before this year's Super Bowl, which is typically one of the most widely viewed broadcasts of the year. The seizures have no effect on the servers or underlying IP addresses used to run the sites, but they do cause people who type the domain names into their browser to be directed to a page that says the address has been seized by “ICE – Homeland Security Investigations.”
In other words, there's nothing stopping the website operators from swapping out the seized domain name with one that was registered overseas, which the feds have no jurisdiction over. Other domain names confiscated include atdhe.net, channelsurfing.net, hq-streams.net, firstrow.net, ilemi.com, iilemi.com, iilemii.com, rojadirecta.org, and rojadirecta.com. ®