Under the flag of Operation Fake Sweep, the Department of Justice and Homeland Security’s ICE unit seized several domains belonging to major sports streaming sites in February.
In addition to pulling these sites offline the feds also arrested 28-year-old Yonjo Quiroa of Comstock Park, Michigan. Quiroa was apprehended for allegedly operating nine of the seized domains and was jailed pending trial.
The sites in question, including hq-streams.tv, sportswwe.com and sports95.com, did not host any infringing files but listed hyperlinks to streams offered by popular third-party services such as Justin.tv.
In the criminal complaint an ICE officer states that through these links he was able to access unauthorized streams of NBA, NHL and WWE events. The complaint further noted that during 2010 and 2011 Quiroa grossed $13,000 by running advertisements on his sites.
In the months following his arrest Quiroa was held in custody without bail. In August he avoided trial by entering a guilty plea for a copyright misdemeanor on the understanding that he would receive a sentence of between 6 and 12 months.
After nine months in custody Quiroa was sentenced late last week.
District Court Judge Robert Ellis sentenced the former site admin to time served for one count of criminal copyright infringement. In addition, it was ordered that Quiroa should be deported to his home country after paying $25 in criminal penalties.
The largest monetary penalty, however, comes from the restitution he has to pay to several sports leagues. The $13,000 Quiroa earned in revenue was counted as losses to the sports majors so the NBA, NFL, NHL, WWE and TNA will each get $2,600.
Losses and restitution
The verdict is the first against the operator of a sports streaming link site in the United States and sets the bar for similar cases in the future.
This includes the pending case of Brian McCarthy, the owner of Texas-based sports streaming site Channelsurfing.net, who was arrested Match 2011.
The sentencing for a lesser misdemeanor crime also raises questions about the looming extradition of UK student Richard O’Dwyer. The U.S. wants to extradite O’Dwyer for his involvement in TVShack, a site linking to TV steams.
The Department of Justice has yet to comment on the outcome of the current case. Interestingly no press release was sent out, unlike in February when the arrest of Quiroa was widely distributed over the news wire.