The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced the seizure of three website domains involved in the sale of illegal copies of popular Android apps.
The move is the first time the DoJ has taken down websites involved in illegal applications for smartphones, with the applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com websites all marked with takedown notices (see below).
The authorities explained they had carried out the seizures in conjunction with French and Dutch authorities, and warned that other sites offering illegal applications should expect similar action.
"Criminal copyright laws apply to apps for cell phones and tablets, just as they do to other software, music and writings," said US attorney Sally Quillian Yates of the Northern District of Georgia.
"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."
The work in taking down the sites was led by the FBI, underlining the seriousness with which the US authorities view the issue, especially as software applications are becoming a key part of the booming digital economy in both the US and abroad.
"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," said FBI special agent Brian Lamkin, who headed up the case.
"These thefts cost companies millions of dollars and can even inhibit the development and implementation of new ideas and applications."
The FBI explained that, to trace those responsible for the frauds, its agents downloaded thousands of copies of the illegal apps, tracing them to servers hosted in other jurisdictions, and working with agencies in those locations to help obtain evidence on the servers.
Furthermore, nine arrest warrants were issued in six different districts in the US as a result of the operation.
The takedowns echo those of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in the UK, which has seized numerous domains believed to be involved in the illegal distribution of music content.
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