U.S. Shuts Down Copyright Pirated Android Mobile App Sites

By Joseph Mandour on August 29, 2012

applications Los Angeles – The U.S. government on Tuesday carried out seizure orders against three websites that allegedly operated as marketplaces for pirated versions of copyrighted mobile applications for Google Inc.’s Android open source mobile operating system.The action marks the first time websites involving phone apps have been seized, the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta said Tuesday.

The three domain names shut down are applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com.  Visits to the sites now yield only an FBI seizure banner warning against copyright infringement.

“Cracking down on piracy of copyrighted works – including popular apps – is a top priority of the Criminal Division,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the DOJ’s Criminal Division said. “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.”

The seizures stemmed from a major enforcement effort designed to prevent the infringement of copyrighted apps, which was carried out with the aid of of international law enforcement including the Dutch and French governments, the authorities said.

“Criminal copyright laws apply to apps for cell phones and tablets, just as they do to other software, music and writings,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates of the Northern District of Georgia said. “These laws protect and encourage the hard work and ingenuity of software developers entering this growing and important part of our economy.”

“We will continue to seize and shut down websites that market pirated apps, and to pursue those responsible for criminal charges if appropriate,” she said.

During the operation, FBI agents downloaded thousands of copies of popular copyrighted mobile device apps from the alternative online markets, according to the DOJ.   The sites were suspected of distributing copies of apps without permission from the software developers who would otherwise sell copies of the apps on legitimate online markets for a fee.

In most cases, the servers storing the apps sold by these alternative online markets were being hosted in other countries, and the government’s international law enforcement partners assisted in obtaining or seizing evidence stored on those servers, the DOJ said.  Nine search warrants were executed in six different districts across the country as part of the operation.

“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,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Lamkin said. “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,” he said.

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