American prosecutors have shut down 16 websites they accuse of illegally broadcasting live sports games and pay-per-view events over the Internet.
The busts come three days before Super Bowl XLVI. The government accuses the sites of enabling viewers to receive pirated streams of NFL, NBA, NHL and other sporting events. Prosecutors say that the sites provided links to other sites that hosted the broadcasts.
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Twenty-eight-year-old Yonjo Quiroa of Michigan has been charged with one count of copyright infringement for allegedly operating nine of the 16 seized websites.
According to Reuters, prosecutors say that illegally streamed sporting events cost leagues and broadcasters millions of dollars per year, a loss that ticket buyers and network subscribers are then sometimes forced to help make up.
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The total roster of seized websites is: firstrow.tv, firstrowsports.com, firstrowsports.net, firstrowsports.tv, hq-streams.tv, robplay.tv, soccertvlive.net, sports95.com, sports95.net, sports95.org, sportswwe.net, sportswwe.tv, sportswwe.com, xonesports.tv, youwwe.com and youwwe.net.
Prosecutors say that Quiroa ran the websites from his house and made more than $13,000 by hosting on-site ads, according to Reuters.
This isn't the first time that U.S. authorities have cracked down on websites alleged to pirate sporting events in the weeks before a Super Bowl. Last year, the government announced that it had taken control of 10 such sites just before Super Bowl XLV.
Ironically, New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady said this week that he has been a patron of streaming pirate sites in the past, according to Reuters.
"Last year, you know, I was rehabbing my foot, you know, in Costa Rica, watching the game on an illegal Super Bowl website," Brady reportedly said in a video posted to the NFL website. "And now I'm actually playing in the game. So it's pretty cool."
Do you think the government was right to crack down on these alleged sports pirates? Let us know in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.