Feds Seize 3 Website Domains Tied to Android Apps

First Time Authorities Seize Domain Names Involving Mobile Apps
Feds Seize 3 Website Domains Tied to Android Apps

U.S. federal authorities say they've seized three website domain names that distributed illegal copies of copyrighted Android cell phone applications, the first time website domains involving cell phone app marketplaces have been confiscated.

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Visitors to the three sites - applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com - will see a seizure banner that notifies them that the domain name has been seized by federal authorities and an explanation that willful copyright infringement is a federal crime.

Intellectual property lawyer James Denaro of CipherLaw characterizes these seizures as significant because the federal government is recognizing the increasing import of mobile platforms by going after the illicit distribution centers. "This is cutting-edge enforcement," he said.

"At this moment, the monetary damage done by these sites is growing quickly," Denaro said. "Because the mobile market will eventually eclipse the desktop market, these types of sites pose a tremendous future threat to the intellectual property of the software developers going forward." .

FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian Lamkin said thefts from these illegal websites cost companies millions of dollars and can even inhibit the development and implementation of new ideas and applications.

According to a statement issued Aug. 21 by the Justice Department, FBI agents downloaded thousands of copies of popular copyrighted mobile device apps from the alternative online markets 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 international law enforcement partners assisted in obtaining or seizing evidence stored on these servers. Nine search warrants were also executed in six different districts across the country today as part of the operation.

The operation was coordinated with international law enforcement, including Dutch and French law enforcement officials.

"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 in a statement announcing the seizures "These laws protect and encourage the hard work and ingenuity of software developers entering this growing and important part of our economy."

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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