During the week preceding one of the biggest American sports events of the year, Super Bowl XLV, the US Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials seized 10 domains which allegedly infringed on copyrights by aggregating streams of major sporting events. Now, authorities have detained and charged the owners of one of the seized domains.
32-year-old Brian McCarthy, who ran television content streaming website ChannelSurfing.net, was arrested at his home in Houston, TX this week and was booked on charges of criminal copyright infringement. The charges stem from revenues of over $90,000 that McCarthy reportedly made from advertising on the site over a 5-year period, while television networks were paying fees to major sports leagues for the rights to be the exclusive broadcaster of games and events.
“Brian McCarthy allegedly sought to profit by intercepting and then streaming live sporting events, hiding behind the anonymity of the internet to make a quick buck through what is little more than high-tech thievery,” said Preet Bhar, attorney for the Southern District of New York, following McCarthy’s arrest.
“This arrest sends a clear message that this office, working with its partners at HIS (Homeland Security Investigations), will vigorously protect valuable intellectual property rights through arrests and domain name seizures,” Bhara continued.
If he is found to be guilty as charged, McCarthy faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in federal prison.
According to TorrentFreak, McCarthy didn’t believe that he was doing anything illegal in operating his website, since ChannelSurfing.net was not actually hosting the streams on its servers.
“The thing about my site is we never streamed anything, we always linked from other sites like justin.tv, veetle, vshare.tv, zonein.tv and others,” McCarthy said following the seizure of his domain.
Despite McCarthy’s incarceration and the efforts of ICE officials to stifle his business, the operations of ChannelSurfing.net are once again up and running on a new domain, Channelsurf.eu.
It’s obvious by Bhar’s comments that federal officials are simply making an example out of McCarthy to try to deter others from running these types of websites. Pardon my cynicism, but you would think that American security officials would have better things to worry about than a guy generating a few thousand dollars per year from ad revenue that likely wouldn’t have gone into the coffers of major league sports organizations and television networks anyway. The people who can get live broadcasts of sporting events on television generally aren’t the ones who are streaming it online, but rather are those who have no other way to access the content.
HSI and ICE need to stop this anti-piracy showboating and actually focus on the things that are really harming American citizens, not the sports organizations and corporations that are still managing to generate millions of dollars in profits.