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Feds strike a deal with alleged illegal streaming site operator

While it seems like the Department of Homeland Security is cracking down on all Internet pirates, it's letting one alleged sports streaming site operator off the hook.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Homeland Security banner that goes on seized domain name sites. Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

After taking down Channelsurfing.net and arresting its alleged owner in 2011, the feds now seem to be easing up. Before going to trial, the government struck a deal earlier this month with the alleged site owner Brian McCarthy.

In a "Deferred Prosecution" memo filed on February 11, which was obtained by TorrentFreak, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara writes that "after a thorough investigation, it has been determined that the interest of the United States and your own interest will best be served by deferring prosecution in this District. Prosecution will be deferred during the term of your good behavior and satisfactory compliance with the terms of this agreement."

Channelsurfing.net was seized in February 2011 during a massive Department of Homeland Security crackdown on sports streaming sites that were allegedly infringing on copyright laws.

At the time, Bharara said in a statement, "The illegal streaming of professional sporting events over the Internet deals a financial body blow to the leagues and broadcasters who are forced to pass their losses off to the fans in the form of higher priced tickets and pay-per-view events... the seizures of these infringing Web sites reaffirm our commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to protect copyrighted material and put the people who steal it out of business."

Shortly after the site's seizure, McCarthy was arrested and accused of criminal copyright infringement, according to TorrentFreak. Channelsurfing.net did not actually stream sports itself but instead linked to external sport streams.

It's unclear why the feds are letting McCarthy off the hook. Under the terms of the deal he came to with the government, he has to show good behavior, find a legal job, not violate any laws, and steer clear of anything to do with illegal Internet streaming. He also has to pay back $351,033, which he allegedly made via Channelsurfing.net, according to TorrentFreak.

Under its program "Operation In Our Sites," the Department of Homeland Security has continued to crack down on illegal sports streaming sites over the past couple of years. Last February, it seized 307 Web sites that either live-streamed sports or sold fake NFL paraphernalia. It also arrested a man who allegedly operated nine of the streaming sites on criminal copyright infringement charges.

According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, more than 700 domain names have been seized since "Operation In Our Sites" launched in 2010.