armchair cultural observation since 1995

Take Down

I have to admit. It was a little frightening when I saw the above image pop up on a website I was using yesterday to watch an English soccer game the website I pay a monthly subscription fee to wasn’t showing until 11:59 p.m.

The first thought that came to mind was, “what the heck does Homeland Security have to do with a pirated English soccer game?” My second was, “am I in trouble?”

It turns out this website wasn’t the only one seized by authorities this week. Rather than take on the owners of the offshore sites, authorities simply seized the domains of a slew of the ones that stream live sporting events, presumably because there is a so-called Super Bowl Sunday and the NFL is afraid it isn’t going to make enough money showing the game for no additional charge to the millions of people with television sets or friends with sets across the country.

As someone in the growing minority of people ditching cable altogether (I don’t even own a television), I think it’s both sad and pointless.

It’s sad because I don’t have any other option to watch sporting events than to watch ESPN3.com and subscribe to online sites like MLB.tv and FoxSoccer.tv. When I don’t have an option to watch games online for a price – thankfully CBS gets it enough to show all of the NCAA tournament games online – I reluctantly resort to illegal sites like the one seized yesterday.

It’s pointless because those sites have probably already set up shop again under different domains. It’s kind of like the war on drugs. For every bust made, several more dealers pop up around the corner.

Like the music industry has learned over the years, piracy can’t be defeated but it can be contained with a little bit of ingenuity. Sadly, I used to pirate music I couldn’t find anywhere else online to legally download. Now, thanks to stellar online services like eMusic and iTunes I pay for 100 percent of the music I obtain. I hope to eventually be able to say the same thing about all of the live sporting events I watch.

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