August 22, 2012

Feds Crack Down On Pirated Android Apps, Set Up Sting

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

It might be harder for some to find free, pirated apps tonight. Working in tandem, the Justice Department and FBI have shut down 3 websites which were believed to have been selling pirated copies of Android Apps. The sites have been shut down and seized in the first government sting on pirated mobile software.

These actions are all a part of a global effort to fight against counterfeiting and piracy.

According to the DOJ´s press statement, the sites, and are all now under the custody of the DOJ and the FBI. Now, seizure banners are all that remain on these sites which once allegedly offered pirated Android software.

“Cracking down on piracy of copyrighted works — including popular apps — is a top priority of the Criminal Division,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer in the press statement. “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.”

These shutdowns could be the first in a long line as the government begins to crack down on pirating of all varieties. In order to gain control of these sites, the DOJ and FBI worked closely with Dutch and French law enforcement.

According to the press statement, FBI agents were able to successfully download thousands of copies of popular, copyrighted Android Apps from these websites. In most cases, these websites were being hosted on servers outside of the U.S., meaning the DOJ and FBI had to depend on help from international law enforcement.

All told, nine search warrants were issued in six districts as a part of this sting.

“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,” said FBI Special Agent Lamkin.

“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 press release for these site seizures then goes on to mention that today´s actions are only a part of what the two government agencies plan to do in the future, and only one of the efforts being carried out by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force). The IP Task Force was created to prevent these kinds of crimes and protect the intellectual property of all American creators.

“Criminal copyright laws apply to apps for cell phones and tablets, just as they do to other software, music and writings,” U.S. Attorney Yates said in a statement.

“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.”