Federal authorities seized three websites this week that they say were illegally selling thousands of copies of Android cellphone apps, the first copyright crackdown of its kind, prosecutors said.
The websites were identified as applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com, according to the Justice Department, the U.S. District Attorney’s Office in Atlanta and the FBI in Atlanta, which jointly made the announcement Wednesday, a day after the sites were seized.
Prosecutors said FBI agents downloaded thousands of copies of popular copyrighted apps from the websites, which were selling them without permission from software developers. The sites were supported by servers hosted in other countries. Dutch and French authorities assisted U.S. agents, and federal prosecutors in Mississippi, Florida, Michigan, Indiana, Rhode Island and Texas also were involved.
“Criminal copyright laws apply to apps for cellphones and tablets, just as they do to other software, music and writings,” U.S. Attorney U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates in Atlanta said in a statement. “We will continue to seize and shut down websites that market pirated apps, and to pursue those responsible for criminal charges if appropriate.”
Authorities say the copyright violations cost developers millions of dollars in lost revenue. No arrests, however, were reported after the websites were seized. Visitors to the three sites are greeted with an “FBI anti-piracy warning.”