While football fans gear up for the Super Bowl, the US federal government is making its own preparations: it's shut down a number of sports streaming sites, and arrested one alleged site owner. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has confirmed that it seized 307 domain names and $4.8 million in counterfeit NFL merchandise in Operation Fake Sweep, which was initiated in October. Of those domains, most sold unauthorized hats, shirts, or other goods, but 16 were seized because they offered pirated streams of sports broadcasts like the Super Bowl.
Nine of those 16 domains were owned by Yonjo Quiroa of Michigan, who was arrested in the sweep and now faces one count of criminal infringement. But although this year's crackdown was unusually large, these operations themselves are not unusual: a number of domains were seized last year as well, and Brian McCarthy was arrested for running ChannelSurfing.net, another sports streaming site. In fact, many of the domains seized this year were merely new names for sites that were shut down in last year's sweep. People in the US won't exactly be hard up for free legitimate ways to watch the Super Bowl, but international viewers will need to find a licensed broadcast or pay for official streaming through the NFL.