Soccer Governing Body Warns Piracy Sites Ahead of World Cup Kickoff

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Ahead of Thursday's kickoff for the 2014 soccer World Cup, event organizers FIFA have sent out advance warnings to the owners of several streaming sites instructing them to take measures to prevent illegal streaming of World Cup games.

The World Cup, which starts in a few hours with the opening match between Brazil and Croatia, is the world's most popular sporting event. Hundreds of millions of people are expected to tune in to watch the opening game and a combined audience of billions is forecast to watch the monthlong tournament, which wraps up with the final July 13. 

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The bulk of fans will see the games legally, on free or pay TV channels as well as online and mobile platforms that have licensed the matches from FIFA. But the World Cup is also expected to see a spike in viewing on unauthorized sites which host or link to pirated streams of live games.

In an unprecedented move, FIFA has sent out a letter to several prominent sites warning them to do all they can to take these unofficial streams offline. Failure to comply, the letter continues, will result in criminal charges.

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Online file-sharing news service TorrentFreak posted a copy of FIFA's letter online. The letter, signed by FIFA's director of legal affairs Marco Villiger and colleague Jorg Vollmuller, asks sites to have someone on duty during all World Cup matches to monitor and quickly take down offending streams.

FIFA has even asked sites to provide its monitoring and enforcement company NetResult with a special takedown tool so that they can remove streams whenever needed.

The letter is unusual because of its proactive nature, ahead of any actual piracy. Typically, copyright owners file takedown requests to sites after offending videos or streams have been posted, not in anticipation of them.

Twitter: @sroxborough

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