Too strong an interest in sports has been known to harm bodies and marriages. But become a homeland security threat? You had to wonder when six popular sports video streaming sites, including Roja Directa and ATDHE, were taken down and their domains seized yesterday by ICE - Homeland Security Investigations, part of Homeland Security's Bureau Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
An investigation seems to have been ongoing, with a court order unsealed only yesterday, when the seizures occurred. The reason was allegations by major U.S. sports leagues of alleged copyright infringement, with action timed to happen right before the Super Bowl.
ICE seized the domains under a seizure warrant obtained by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the southern district of New York. The National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, World Wrestling Entertainment, and Ultimate Fighting Championship were the "sports leagues relevant to" the seizure, according to an affidavit signed by Daniel Brazier, special agent of ICE.
In addition to Roja Directa and ATDHE, the affected sites include HQ-Streams, FirstRow, ChannelSurfing, and ILEMI. Here is the notice that now appears on the sites:
Not that the seizures have stopped the streaming. Although ATDHE.net shows the seizure notice, ATDHE has resurfaced at two new domains: ATDHE.me and ATDHEnet.tv. The .me domain is Montenegro and .tv belongs to the islands of Tuvalu. That raises the question of whether the U.S. government would have the authority to seize either domain. According to a note on the new site, ICE seized the old ATDHE domain on January 2. Roja Directa has three new sites in other countries.
Nicholas Deleon at CrunchGear thought that Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is behind the action. The company depends completely on pay-per-view broadcasting, and the sites have streamed their material. But clearly the complaints by sports organizations have been broader.
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