In what is becoming a ritual akin to Superbowl Week itself, federal prosecutors today announced the seizure of 16 websites that offered live streaming of sporting events and 291 others that sold counterfeit sports merchandise.
Prosecutors timed the seizures to coincide with a major marketing event, Superbowl XLVI. Similar enforcement actions occurred before last year’s Superbowl and before cyber-Monday last November when the feds bagged 150 illicit sites.
Today’s haul included streaming sites with names like sports95.com and firstrowtv.com. Prosecutors are also charging 28-year-old Michigan man Yonjo Quiroa with criminal copyright for operating the sites from his house.
Meanwhile, Reuters (NYSE: TRI) reports that New England quarterback Tom Brady admitted he used an unauthorized stream to watch last year’s Super Bowl while he was in Costa Rica nursing a sore foot.
The theatrics of the enforcement action resembled previous ones. As on other occasions, today’s news featured a swarm of federal agencies, led by Homeland Security, who displayed fake merchandise and gave triumphant statements.
The website seizures are based on a legal process created in the 1970′s to let federal agents confiscate the property of drug dealers. Once seized, the sites display federal law enforcement badges.
After a number of months, the names are forfeited and become the property of the federal government. The government, in a tactic of dubious legality, has also been using some of the forfeited sites to display anti-piracy messages from Hollywood.
Las Vegas odds makers are favoring the New England Patriots to win the big game by three points over the New York Giants.