Internet Piracy is Changing the Game

Continuing technological advancements support the ever-increasing size and power of the Internet, yet-as you have likely heard before-with great power comes great responsibility. The Internet has developed into a hotbed of copyright infringement, no longer solely limited to the music realm, but it also impacts live sporting events. After several lawsuits targeted at file-sharing companies, such as Napster and Kazaa, distributors transitioned to streaming sites which has proved much more difficult to track since sites are hosted by various servers around the world. However, recent legislation narrowed down the list of perpetrators accountable for illegally distributing copyrighted material, but some argue they are not actually punishing the true culprits.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Panel passed the Protect IP Act which targets websites “dedicated to infringing activities,” including the sale of illegally copied music, movies, pharmaceuticals and consumer products (Engleman, 2011). This act punishes companies who ‘assist’ users to find and view the copyrighted material on various websites. Since finding the creators of illegal streaming sites has proved very difficult, this act distributes blame to three separate groups:

1. U.S.-based search engines

  • Legislators argued that search engines provide users with links to the infringing sites. In accordance with this act, the U.S. Attorney General could produce a court order to force companies to block the illegal material. However, Google spokeswoman, Mistique Cano, worries the act might go too far stating, “We support the goal of the bill but we have real concerns about some provisions” (Engleman, 2011). She details Google’s concerns that blocking access to websites could impact free expression (Engleman, 2011).

2. Internet-service providers

  • ISPs would be required to take down sites containing illegally distributed material. Below, Brad Stone’s article, “Unpaid Per View” explores the difficulties ISPs will face:
One variety of pirate video source, the so-called link site, does nothing but present a handy menu of pointers to other Web pages where Internet users can watch live games for free. These sites, such as ATDHE, Channelsurf, and Rojadirecta, do not host any video themselves, and their owners express indignation when asked about piracy (2011).
Are links to sites containing pirated material viewed in the same light as the actual sites? This seems unclear and can cause confusion among ISPs.

3. Payment processors and advertising networks.

  • Legislators argue that online advertising networks and payment processors display ads and provide services on illegal video sites, and this act will compel them from continuing business with them. Below, R. Thomas Umstead’s article “Online Pirates in the Crosshairs” explores the value of streaming pirated content:
A decade ago, most people pirating a boxing match were looking to avoid paying the $30 to $50 PPV ordering fee. Today, offering digital pirated content can apparently generate some significant incremental revenue. [Bryan] McCarthy [, owner of service,] allegedly made more than $90,000 in profits from online merchants who bought ads on his site (2011).
So how does this affect sports organizations?

Newer technology provides pirates with the ability to easily divert authorized broadcasts from TV networks to their own websites (Stone, 2011). Not only has newer technology increased the ease of pirating broadcasts, it also allows pirates to work in countries with less rigorous copyright protections laws and anti-piracy enforcement (Stone, 2011). Internet piracy undermines the exclusive broadcast and highly lucrative contracts sports leagues develop with TV networks (Stone, 2011). With broadcasts only a click away, fans will no longer feel obligated to purchase the exclusive sports package to see their favorite teams. The sports leagues have not felt the full financial blow of pirated content because TV network contracts have not yet expired. However, when leagues soon face contract renewals with TV networks, I am sure the financial toll will be felt. I suppose the question is, “will this legislation reduce pirated sports content?” I do not think it will, but I think it might be a step closer to finding the elusive needle in the haystack of pirated content.


Engleman, E. (2011, May 26). ‘Rogue’ websites targeted in bill passed by senate panel. Bloomberg. Retrieved from

How-does-copyright-work.s600x600.jpg (2011). Retrieved from

Stone, B. (2011, February 28). Unpaid per view.
Bloomberg Businessweek, (4218), 66-70. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Umstead, R. (2011, March 14). Online pirates in the crosshairs.
Multichannel News, 32(11), 28. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

No comments:

Post a Comment