Federal authorities have seized more than 300 websites, including several popular sports streaming sites, as part of a nationwide crackdown on Internet counterfeiting and piracy.
Sixteen of the sites, including Firstrowsports.tv, Firstrowsports.com and Soccertvlive.net, were taken down for illegally streaming live sporting telecasts over the Internet, according to authorities. Another 291 websites were taken down on charges of illegally selling and distributing counterfeit merchandise, according to a statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Yonjo Quiroa, 28, of Comstock Park, Mich., was arrested Wednesday on charges of criminal copyright infringement for allegedly operating websites that illegally streamed live sporting event telecasts and pay-per-view events over the Internet, authorities said. Authorities said Quiroa operated nine of the 16 streaming websites that were seized, and he operated them from his home in Michigan until Wednesday's arrest.
The website seizures were part "Operation Fake Sweep," one of several phases of "Operation In Our Sites," an ongoing law enforcement initiative targeting counterfeiting and piracy on the Internet. The timing of the seizure - just days before the Super Bowl - is similar to a crackdown last year of several domains belonging major sports streaming sites just before the heavily-watched football game, according to Torrent Freak.
A press release posted online on Thursday by the U.S. Immigration and Customs department said that $4.8 million worth of counterfeit NFL merchandise was also confiscated as part of the raid.
The piracy crackdown comes just weeks after authorities seized the Web site Megaupload, an online file-sharing site, in one of the largest criminal copyright cases ever.