Sports piracy is prevalent around the world, with more than half of all sports fans regularly using unauthorized streaming services.
Football, also known as soccer in some parts of the world, is particularly problematic. It’s seen as a gateway sport that turns fans of other sports into streaming pirates.
This is of particular concern now that millions of pirates are tuning into the World Cup. Keeping this in mind, it’s no surprise that U.S. law enforcement authorities appear to have taken down some of the most used sports streaming piracy domain names today.
Feds Seize Sports Streaming Sites
A few hours ago, popular sites such as score808.com, hesgoal.com, 9goaltv.cc, freestreams-live1.com, weakstreams.com, and istream2watch.com became inaccessible.
Most of these sites have millions of monthly visitors looking to stream sports content for free. That is not an option today. Instead, visitors are welcomed by a seizure banner, displaying the seals of U.S. law enforcement outfits.
“This domain name has been seized by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) pursuant to a warrant issued by the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, the banner reads, warning that offenders risk criminal prosecution.
It’s not immediately clear whether the seizures were carried out through domain registrars, which include at least one foreign company, or the Verisign domain registry. However, the latter seems more plausible as Verisign oversees both .com and .cc domains.
The domains’ nameservers were pointed at SEIZEDSERVERS.COM. These nameservers are controlled by the US Department of Justice and are often used to shut down sites as part of criminal proceedings. The same happened to several Z-Library domain names last month.
The domain seizures haven’t been officially confirmed but it appears to be a coordinated attack on sports streaming sites. TorrentFreak reached out to the Department of Justice and the IPR Center but we received no immediate responses.
Whether anyone has been arrested, as seen recently in the Z-Library crackdown, remains unknown. There are no immediate signs that any servers have been taken offline either.
Domain Name Switch
The seizures are undoubtedly a major blow to the sites, most of which have millions of monthly visits, but whether they will stay offline is unclear.
Stream2watch, for example, has already moved to a new domain name at istream2watch.stream and remains accessible. Other sites may also attempt similar comebacks.
This isn’t the first time that U.S. authorities have cracked down on sports piracy sites. In fact, one of the first rounds of domain seizures, back in 2012, targeted several popular sports streaming sites and was specifically timed around the Super Bowl.
Update: 9goaltv.to is seized as well.
Update 2: Quite a few other domain names appear to be targeted.
This is a breaking story and this article will be updated with any new information