HSI agents arrest website operator for illegally streaming copyrighted sporting events
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NEW YORK - A Queens man, who allegedly streamed live copyrighted sporting events over the Internet illegally, was arrested this morning by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Mohamed Ali, 19, of Hollis, N.Y., was taken into custody at his home and charged with one count of criminal infringement of a copyright. He was the operator of HQ-STREAMS.COM and HQ-STREAMS.NET. Both of those domain names were seized by HSI on Feb. 1, 2011, as part of an ongoing HSI investigation into websites that illegally streamed copyrighted sporting telecasts and pay-per-view events.
The investigation into Ali revealed he made more than $6,000 in profits from online merchants who paid subscription fees to view copyrighted material. Since the seizure, both sites have received more than 50,000 hits combined.
"Today's arrest sends a clear message to website operators who mistakenly believe it's worth the risk to take copyrighted programming and portray it as their own," said ICE Director John Morton. "Protecting legitimate business interests are a priority for HSI, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center and our law enforcement partners. We are dedicated to protecting the jobs, the income and the tax revenue that disappear when organized criminals traffic in stolen content for their own profit."
According to the criminal complaint and seizure affidavit unsealed today in Manhattan federal court, from approximately February 2010 to January 2011, Mohamed Ali used HQ-STREAMS.COM and HQ-STREAMS.NET to allegedly infringe on copyrighted material from the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Ultimate Fighting Championship and (UFC) and boxing events for purposes of commercial advantage and private financial gain.
Visitors to HQ-STREAMS.COM and HQ-STREAMS.NET paid a subscription fee of $6, $12 and up to $25 to click on one of a number of links to begin the process of downloading or streaming illegal broadcasts of sporting events to their computers. During the investigation leading to the Feb. 1, 2011, seizures, HSI agents downloaded portions of live and taped copyrighted telecasts of these events from HQ-STREAMS.COM and HQ-STREAMS.NET.
Ali registered the HQ-STREAMS.COM and HQ-STREAMS.NET domain names in February 2010 and operated the websites until the time of their seizure out of his home in Hollis.
The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. As a task force, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 19 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions, and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.
To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.
This case is being handled by the Complex Frauds Unit of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher D. Frey is in charge of the prosecution.
The charge contained in the complaint is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.