Three sites seized after pirating Android apps, DOJ says

The government agency says the sites were allowing users to illegally download copyrighted Android applications.

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The Justice Department's site warning.
The Justice Department's site warning. U.S. Department of Justice

The U.S. Department of Justice has taken aim at three sites that allegedly pirated Android apps.

According to the Justice Department, it seized three Web sites -- applanet.net, appbucket.net, and snappzmarket.com -- that were allegedly offering copies of copyrighted Android apps. It marked the first time that sites were seized over allegedly pirating copyrighted mobile apps.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the sting operation by downloading "thousands of copies of popularity copyright apps" from the sites, the Justice Department said. The agency didn't specify the apps, but the servers hosting them were based overseas, leading the FBI to call on international law-enforcement partners for help.

"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," FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Lamkin said yesterday in a statement. "These thefts cost companies millions of dollars and can even inhibit the development and implementation of new ideas and applications."

The Justice Department didn't announce any arrests in connection with the seizures.

Legal Android marketplaces are quite common on the Web. Google's Play marketplace and Amazon's Appstore are the most prominent Android app stores.

The seized sites are still online. However, when users surf to them, they'll find a seizure banner informing them that "willful copyright infringement is a federal crime."