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US Government Seizes Domain In NFL-Inspired Raids

Domain names and jerseys were seized in the raids.

On the eve of the Super Bowl, government agents were busy seizing 307 web domains suspected of infringing on National Football League copyrights. Most of the sites were accused of selling counterfeit NFL jerseys and accessories. But at least 16 of the seized domains were known for illegally streaming NFL and college football games.


Because so many of the sites were run outside of American borders Operation Fake Sweep, as it was known, was conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE). Visitors to the newly shuttered sites wound up seeing the Department of Justice (DOJ) logo instead of the big game.

Coincidentally, this was the first year the NFL sponsored its own streamed version of professional sports’ biggest event. The official stream drew more than 2 million viewers.

Affiliate Connection

Try not to act too shocked when you read this next sentence; many illegal sports streaming, like sites are closely tied to affiliate marketers and their partner casinos. In fact, many a game stream is interrupted with offers to place wagers with well known gaming brands like 888 and Bodog.

It should also come as no surprise that the newly shuttered sites are just a drop in the bucket and new sites have already popped up to take their place. These sites are hugely popular, especially amongst Americans living abroad who may have trouble finding a local broadcast of American football. Even New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady admits to using illegal streams to watch games while visiting his wife’s family in Brazil.

Civil vs Criminal

One interesting aspect of this story is that ICE was acting under US civil, rather than criminal, law. This means that the complaints were brought on by the copyright holders, rather than government lawyers. It also means leaves domain owners carrying the burden of proving that they did not, in fact, violate copyright laws.

What do you think of affiliates who utilize illegal  streaming sites? Let us know in our General Discussion Forum.