In recent years, rightsholders of major sports events have repeatedly complained that piracy of live sports is getting out of hand.
Ideally, they would like to see updates to the current legislative frameworks so the problem can be targeted more efficiently. These comments have prompted lawmakers to look into the matter but, for now, the status quo remains.
That’s not to say that it’s impossible to address sports streaming piracy under current laws. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment has used its network and law enforcement connections to take out several large sports streaming operations, for example.
U.S. Domain Seizures
The U.S. Government also proved its abilities late last year, when it seized dozens of sports streaming-related domains in a FIFA World Cup-themed enforcement push.
This high-profile action affected millions of pirates and was successful in shutting some sites down permanently. SoccerStreams, one of the main targets, initially moved to a new domain but later announced that it had shut down permanently.
Earlier this week, several websites associated with brands that were targeted by U.S. seizures suddenly became unreachable. The domain names of popular sites such as NFLbite.com, NBAbite.com, and freestreams-live1.top stopped resolving.
More than a dozen sports streaming domains appeared to be taken out. These domains were registered through Njalla, which advertises itself as the “world’s most notorious privacy provider for domains.”
Privacy doesn’t mean that domains will remain online at all costs though. Njalla initially changed the nameservers of the domains to 1-ceci.njalla.do, 2-nest.pipe.ma, 3-pas.njalla.in, which made these unreachable. Or as the French would say, Ceci n’est pas.
Indian Court Order
Given the recent history, it seemed likely that the U.S. Government might be involved, but that’s not the case. Njalla informs us that it took action following a court order from the New Delhi High Court in India.
“The domains are all with our ICANN-accredited partner and it’s out of both ours and their hands because of the court decision,” Njalla explains.
If Njalla or its partner, presumably Tucows, ignored the court order the latter would risk losing its ICANN accreditation. That could effectively put the company out of business.
Njalla still doesn’t have all the information but may share more details in the future, if the domain registrants give permission. What’s clear is that the court order requires domain name registrants and registries to cooperate.
Not All Domains Remain Suspended
This enforcement action isn’t as broad as it first appeared, however. Several domains that initially pointed to “suspended” nameservers have resurfaced again on their original nameservers. Apparently, these domains are not listed in the court order.
Njalla informs us that the domain names that currently have a ‘clienthold’ status are the real targets. That appears to include freestreams-live1.top, which currently points to “shut-for-fraud.com” nameservers.
Needless to say, the domain suspension immediately stopped all traffic to this site, albeit with a slight delay due to DNS caching. However, sites that have previously survived U.S. domain seizures are not quick to back down, so the domain whack-a-mole will likely continue.
Demand for pirated streams doesn’t appear to wane either. A recent poll by Oddspedia among 3,200 American football fans shows that 93% don’t have any moral objections to using pirated streams. According to most respondents, the legal options are simply too expensive.
Freestreams-live1.top is now on Clienthold. There may be more of these but without a copy of the court order, we’re not able to confirm that.
Below is a list of the domain names that (previously) pointed to suspended nameservers.