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ICE Tackles Internet Piracy in Texas

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By Brian Kalish March 3, 2011

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The feds are getting tough with online crime. On Thursday, agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested one Texan for pirating broadcasts of live sporting events and announced the sentencing of another in a software piracy conspiracy.

Bryan McCarthy, 32, of Deer Park, Texas, allegedly operated channelsurfing.net, which he used to streamline live, copyrighted sporting events over the Internet. The site was seized by federal authorities on Feb. 1. According to the criminal complaint the site was an online portal for pirated sports events from the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and National Hockey League, among others. The website also contained links to various live television channels.

McCarthy, who has been charged with one count of criminal infringement of a copyright, made $90,000 in profits from online merchants advertising on the site, according to an ICE press release. The site had 1.3 million hits since being shut down. If convicted, McCarthy faces a maximum of five years in prison.

"Brian McCarthy allegedly sought to profit by intercepting and then streaming live sporting events, hiding behind the anonymity of the internet to make a quick buck through what is little more than high-tech thievery," said Preet Bhara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a prepared statement. "This arrest sends a clear message that this office, working with its partners at HSI, will vigorously protect valuable intellectual property rights through arrests and domain name seizures."

Also Thursday, David Fein, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, said 46-year-old Michael Uszakow, who went by the alias "iced," was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay a fine of $2,000 for his involvement in an underground online community that used the Internet to engage in large-scale distribution of copyrighted software, video games, movies, music files and other protected material.

Participants in the "warez scene" worked as "crackers" to break the digital copyright protections of material while others distributed the software to file storage sites on the Internet. According to Fein, Uszakow uploaded and downloaded thousands of files from the warez server known as Nite Ranger Hideout.

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