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Feds seize sports streaming websites in pre-Super Bowl XLV crackdown

If you were hoping to stream Sunday’s Super Bowl XLV on your PC or laptop, you might have to make other plans. Just days before the Super Bowl, federal officials in New York seized 10 websites allegedly responsible for illegally streaming live sporting and pay-per-view events, including material from the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and the World Wrestling Federation.

The seizures were carried out on Tuesday by federal prosecutors and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New York. The websites include Atdhe.net (profiled by Digital Trends here), Channelsurfing.net, HQ-Streams.com, HQ-Streams.net, Firstrow.net, Ilemi.com, Iilemi.com, IiLemii.com, Rojadirecta.org and Rojadirecta.com. The sites’ content has been replaced with an ICE seizure notice and a familiar copyright reminder threatening “five years in federal prison, restitution, forfeiture and fine” for first-time offenders.

“Online piracy of live sporting event telecasts threatens the investment that broadcasters and digital media companies are willing to make to distribute live content, the leagues’ ability to sell game tickets and secure local television and radio carriage, and the value of advertising revenue generated by broadcast, radio and new media products,” the affidavit read. “Sports fans are also victims, as the costs expended by sports leagues in an effort to address online piracy are passed on to fans when they purchase tickets or subscribe to sports networks.”

When websites are seized, they often return in a matter of hours or days. So if government officials were hoping to curtail streaming of Super Bowl XLV, then they might have moved too soon. The folks running Atdhe.net have already launched a new website that’s functional and streaming live sporting events. Unless ICE moves quickly to shutdown the new site, it’s likely the Super Bowl will have at least one online home.

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