The fever of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup 2022 reached its pinnacle this Sunday, with Messi getting his due. Finally! The world enjoyed this global festival wholeheartedly.
However, the World Cup also came with certain problems. Several domain names were up and running, that were illegally streaming the match. US authorities have taken strict actions against those domain names, with the recent being the second one of such actions within a month.
There are various platforms to view the match legally. However, such platforms always have a paywall. This makes a number of people opt for illegally streaming the matches.
There are a number of platforms that do so. Such platforms have a huge following across social media platforms like Facebook and Reddit.
Although the prevailing notion is that there aren’t any serious security threats associated with these domain names. There is a serious issue of Intellectual Property Rights violation in such cases.
Such websites seriously affect the financial viability of the system. Distribution rights of these matches are acquired through intense bidding and financial persistence. Distributing such hardly acquired content freely and illegally is a serious offence on the distributors part.
FIFA too gets compensation against selling these rights. Money that it uses to maintain, promote and develop the sports.
US’s First Action
In September, the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) received a complaint from a member of FIFA about several non authorised parties streaming matches illegally. Based on these complaints, HSI agents placed in Maryland started investigating these domain names.
The U.S. The Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland found that the mentioned domain names in this complaint violate FIFA’s IP rights. As a result 55 domain names were seized.
Although the domain names that were purged weren’t revealed, a report by TorrentFreak has given some guesses. Some of these guesses include TopLiveMatch.net, 247Football.net, EPLsite.football, Soccer24hd.com, Score808.com, HesGoal.com, WeakStreams.com, etc.
However, many of these platforms came back through different domain names. The domain name contained the same key words in the Second Level domain name with a few variations.
US’s Second Action
With the mushrooming of a fresh wave of piracy sites against FIFA, Maryland’s District Attorney acted again. In just over a week after sanctioning 55 domain names, 23 additional domain names were brought down.
Again, the authorities didn’t reveal the name. However, TorrentFreak again presented its guesses for this time as well. Some of these were Hesgoal.pro, HesGoal.me, WeakStream.net, LibreFutbol.com, wizwig1.com, SoccerStreams.net, etc.
As you can clearly see, several of the domain names blocked in this wave were a re-emergence of the earlier blacked domain names. HesGoal.com came back with HesGoal.pro and HesGoal.me. While, WeakStreams.com came again as WeakStream.net.
Hence, although the crackdown by the US authorities is appreciable, it is not the end. As seen here, banned domain names have a habit of coming back again with a different domain name.
The order doesn’t just stop the domain names. But, rather also bars anyone from using these names again for such platforms. However, the domain names are still being renewed.
The problem with tackling such issues is the judicial red tape around them. Although the authorities are to be appreciated here, the same is not the case when the Plaintiff isn’t as influential as FIFA.
Many countries have established their own Domain Dispute Resolution Procedures as well as several reputed International Institutes provide similar services for international disputes. However, a specialised body that regulates such cases in an effective and fast paced manner is missing.
Fraudsters more often than not, get the advantage of lengthy legal processes. Many times such disputes are heard separately This also adds to the reluctance on the Plaintiff’s part.
If we want to stop the burgeoning of counterfeit domain names, a lightning fast resolution mechanism is the only answer. In the current times when a huge part of the economy is based online, this can’t be ignored anymore.
Jurisprudence in such cases shouldn’t be treated just as a legal issue, but as a service towards the protection of legitimate Intellectual Property holders.