Sports leagues cheer federal smackdown of illicit websites

Websites accused of illegally streaming the Super Bowl and other sports broadcasts online were thrown for a loss this week in New York when federal officials served seizure warrants and shut down illicit Internet broadcasters.

The seizure action could have broad ramifications for pay-per-view telecasts, including those of the Las Vegas-based Ultimate Fighting Championship. In addition to the NFL and UFC, NBA, NHL and World Wrestling Entertainment broadcasts are affected, according to the seizure warrant. The sports leagues allegedly lose millions of dollars a year in pay-per-view revenue to pirate Web broadcasters.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John T. Morton on Wednesday announced the raid of 10 websites.

UFC attorney Donald Campbell, a former Organized Crime Strike Force prosecutor, called the seizure action a victory for the copyright holders. Campbell and law partner Colby Williams represent the UFC in litigation against Justin.tv, one of the Internet operators shut down in this week’s raid. Justin.tv is accused of pirating UFC pay-per-view broadcasts.

"Not only does the UFC lose millions of dollars, but similarly the fighters lose a percentage of their profits from the pay-per-view contract," Campbell said. "Moreover, there is a commensurate loss of revenue to the federal, state, and local government in the form of taxes because no one’s paying taxes on any of it."

When you consider Las Vegas is a major venue for pay-per-view events, and producing those boxing matches and UFC spectacles employ thousands of workers, the story is more complex and important to the local economy than it might first appear.

The unanswered question is whether this week’s seizure will slow the online theft or merely force the thieves to switch channels.

MAYOR’S RACE: Reliable sources say venture capitalist and health care industry businessman Victor Chaltiel is gearing up to enter the Las Vegas mayor’s race.

Chaltiel is the chairman of Redhills Ventures, a venture capital business. He also is a founder of HealthDataInsights, a medical claims management service.

He is an active contributor to political campaigns, making donations to the candidacies of Joe Heck, Sue Lowden and Shelley Berkley in 2010 among many.

PROP BETS: Las Vegas handicapper Chris Jordan (chrisjordansports.com) admits he’s a big fan of Christina Aguilera, who is scheduled to sing the national anthem before Super Bowl XLV. He has the CDs to prove it.

So it was no trouble for him to research the singer’s vocals in an effort to come up with an opinion on a favorite Super Bowl proposition bet: Will "The Star-Spangled Banner" be sung in more or less than one minute, 54 seconds?

Jordan likes the under, although he admits, "She has been known to hold her notes."

CORONER’S REPORT: Clark County Coroner Michael Murphy was interviewed for Frontline’s groundbreaking documentary "Post Mortem: Death Investigation in America." Co-writer and correspondent Lowell Bergman illustrates the stunning differences in professional training from one coroner’s office to the next. A 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences called for discontinuing the coroner’s position and establishing national standards and accreditation for medical examiners.

"It was a pretty broad stroke," Murphy told Frontline. "I don’t know that the medical examiner community is prepared at this point to have that happen because there’s not enough (certified forensic pathologists) out there. I had a vacancy in our office for almost 18 months looking for a medical examiner."

WISHFUL THINKING: Don’t forget Kendall Tenney’s 10th annual Run For A Wish to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Nevada on Saturday at Town Square. This year, Marie Osmond is presenting the event.

Late entrants are welcome. You can sign up the morning of the event. Money raised goes to grant wishes for children facing life-threatening medical problems.

Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? E-mail comments and contributions to Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith.

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