(WASHINGTON) -- Since New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady watched a live stream of Super Bowl 45 while vacationing in Costa Rica last year, it stands to reason that all NFL fans should be entitled to do the same.
Not so, said the federal government, which went on the rampage Thursday by seizing 16 websites that offer illegal live streams of sporting games and pay-per-view events in what was dubbed as "Operation Fake Sweep." It's alleged that 28-year-old Yonjo Quiroa of Michigan operated nine of these sites.
There's a pretty good chance that Brady was watching the game from one of the sites that these websites provided links to. This Sunday, he'll be trying to lead his Pats to victory over the New York Giants in Super Bowl 46.
The bust was necessary, according to prosecutors, because "These websites and their operators deprive sports leagues and networks of legitimate revenue, forcing spectators and viewers to bear the cost of this piracy down the line."
In other words, when the NFL and other leagues get their products ripped off, they pass the losses down to sports fans in the form of higher ticket prices and cable costs.
NBC, which is broadcasting the Super Bowl this year, is also live streaming the game to mobile devices, the first time any network has done this.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also announced that it closed down 291 sites that sold counterfeit sports merchandise.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio