US Department of Justice seizes three websites accused of trafficking pirated Android apps.
The US Department of Justice is continuing its war against piracy – and this time, it’s going mobile. After recent high-profile cases involving prominent websites like MegaUpload and Surfthechannel, the piracy police have taken their campaign to a new level. The DOJ has seized three websites that have been accused of trafficking pirated Android apps after an extensive investigation into the sites.
According to the DOJ, the government coordinated with various other agencies, including FBI officials in Atlanta, and French and Dutch authorities. Those involved in the investigation claimed they downloaded thousands of pirated apps, which were available under copyright on legitimate Android marketplace websites like the Google Play store.
The move is the first of its kind. Until now, the DOJ has targeted general file-sharing sites that host links to a range of content. This new move is the first time that US officials have acted to seize websites that specifically sell or host mobile apps.
In a statement on the DOJ website, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer was quoted as saying:
“Cracking down on piracy of copyrighted works – including popular apps – is a top priority of the Criminal Division. Software apps have become an increasingly essential part of our nation’s economy and creative culture, and the Criminal Division is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect the creators of these apps and other forms of intellectual property from those who seek to steal it.”
In this case, the affected domains were applanet.net, appbucket.net, and snappzmarket.com. Visitors to those sites are now welcomed with an official notification that the domain has been seized by the FBI, as well as a thinly-veiled warning detailing the punishment for “willful copyright infringement”.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Lamkin had the following to say:
“The theft of intellectual property, particularly within the cyber arena, is a growing problem and one that cannot be ignored by the U.S government’s law enforcement community. These thefts cost companies millions of dollars and can even inhibit the development and implementation of new ideas and applications. The FBI, in working with its various corporate and government partners, is not only committed to combating such thefts but is well poised to coordinate with the many jurisdictions that are impacted by such activities.”
The investigation into the alternative app marketplaces revealed that the servers storing these apps were hosted abroad, which led to the involvement of French and Dutch authorities. Nine arrest warrants have been executed as part of the operation, but the DOJ haven’t confirmed whether anyone involved is or will be under arrest as part of the case yet.
In the same statement, US Attorney Sally Quillian Yates issued a warning to other alternative app websites:
“We will continue to seize and shut down websites that market pirated apps, and to pursue those responsible for criminal charges if appropriate.”
Watch this space…