RIAA member owned VEVO illegally streams NFL game at Sundance

Someone call the pirate police. VEVO, the popular music video site owned by some of the biggest players in the business, was caught playing an unlicensed NFL game during a Sundance Film Festival party.

Tech Crunch’s Jason Kincaid pulled the curtain back on the surprising blunder, much to the chagrin of VEVO and its owners.

According to the reporter, TV monitors located throughout the bar hosting a VEVO PowerStation event at Sundance were showing a recent ESPN-aired Patriots vs. Ravens playoff game. A logo on the top-left of the screen for Spanish streaming site TuTele.tv caught Kincaid’s eye. Subsequent buffering, followed by a quick page refresh, tipped him off that this was no legal stream. Someone at the party not only knew how and where to find the unauthorized feed, but clearly had no moral objection to accessing it.

The notion that pirates are emboldened by their anonymity can’t be argued, and the same could be said for whomever was behind this – VEVO employee or no.

Co-owned by Sony Music Entertainment, Abu Dhabi Media Group and Universal Music Group, VEVO told Kincaid that anyone could have accessed the pirate feed. That’s true. But does the defense sound familiar? It should, as it’s a major hurdle for copyright holders (including the aforementioned three) who sue for infringement.

When a person illegally downloads movies or music, their IP address is key proof of the infraction. But if a computer is shared by a family (or even among friends), copyright holders can find it difficult to prove exactly who committed the crime. Of course, that doesn’t stop them from trying.

Last August, a blind man was sued by a porn company for illegally downloading two X-rated films after his IP address turned up in an investigation. He argued that a neighbor must have connected to his unsecured Wi-Fi router and downloaded the movies.

It’s unknown if VEVO will sue itself over the embarrassing blunder. ESPN, on the other hand, could have a case.