Cracking down on piracy of copyrighted works, including popular mobile apps, has been described as a 'top priority of the Criminal Division' of the FBI.
Following the seizure of three website domains involved in distributing pirated Android mobile phone apps, assistant attorney general Lanny A. Breuer said that software apps have become an increasingly essential part of America's economy and creative culture.
He said that the Criminal Division of the FBI is committed to working with law enforcement partners to protect the creators of these apps and other forms of intellectual property from those who seek to steal it.
The three seized domain names – applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com – are now in the custody of the US federal government after the first seizure of website domains, involving mobile phone app marketplaces.
This was the result of a coordinated effort with international law enforcement, including Dutch and French law enforcement officials, and was intended to prevent the infringement of copyrighted mobile device apps.
“The theft of intellectual property, particularly within the cyber arena, is a growing problem and one that cannot be ignored by the US 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,” said FBI special agent in charge, Brian D. Lamkin.
“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.”
During the operation, 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.
It found that 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 US as part of the operation.