- DISH and Sling TV filed a lawsuit against ‘SportsBay’, ‘Freefeds’, and ‘live NBA’ streaming domains.
- These platforms are redistributing the broadcasters’ sports channels by circumventing DRMs.
- The pirate sites are still up and running, all using PirateBay’s theme for some reason.
DISH Network and Sling TV have moved with determination against four sports stream sites that are currently hurting their profits, submitting a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Texas, demanding the awarding of damages, a transfer of ownership for the infringing domains, and injunctive relief. The amount request that the court will review seeks statutory damages of up to $2,500 per violation, which in total could account for tens of millions of USD or even more.
The websites that are targeted are the following:
These four are accused of circumventing pirate-protection measures set up by the broadcasters and providing services in the form of re-transmissions for their own financial benefit. Obviously, none of them have a license to such a redistribution scheme, so DISH and Sling TV simply lose money because of their operation.
As first spotted by TorrentFreak, the lawsuit describes a pretty peculiar case of simultaneous circumvention of three DRM (Digital Rights Management) technologies at once, namely Widevine, Fairplay, and Play Ready. ‘SportsBay’ appears capable of circumventing or unlocking all three, allowing its subscribers to access content and live streams that should be out of their reach. From a practical perspective, the sites use an iFrame from the official Sling servers, connecting the subscriber with the legitimate service indirectly.
This is a tricky way to obtain the decryption keys, but it remains a clear violation of the 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1)(A) anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA. Still, this is an interesting case of DRM cracking that should be non-applicable.
SportsBay.org is the most popular of the bunch, having 9.35 million unique visitors per month. The platform offers live HD games from the NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB, Tennis, NASCAR, Formula 1, Boxing, MMA, Cricket, and many more sports for free. At the time of writing this, the pirate platform remains online and operational. All four sites use a slightly modified ‘PirateBay’ branding, even though there’s no real link to the notorious torrent indexing service.
For DISH Network, lawsuits of this kind have been very prolific in the past, so even if the pirate site operators bump to other domains after their confiscation, the broadcaster is still getting a significant reimbursement. Both DISH and Sling TV have seen their subscriber numbers dropping in recent years, so they will do everything they can to protect what they are still holding onto.