U.S. law enforcement officials said on Tuesday that three websites that were allegedly distributing illegal copies of copyrighted Android cell phone apps had been seized in what is described as the first such operation against cellphone apps marketplaces.
The Justice Department said in a statement it had executed seizure orders from federal courts against the three websites.
In an operation involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department, and several U.S. attorneys' offices, besides Dutch and French law enforcement officials, the three seized domain names -- applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com -- came into the custody of the federal government, and now carry a seizure banner.
In most cases, the servers storing the apps sold by the "alternative online markets" were being hosted in other countries, the department said in a statement. International law enforcement partners assisted in obtaining or seizing evidence stored on these servers.
During the operation, FBI agents downloaded thousands of copies of popular copyrighted mobile device apps from the alternative online markets which are suspected of distributing copies of apps without permission from software developers, the department said.
Nine search warrants were also executed in six different districts across the country on Tuesday as part of the operation.
"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," Lanny A. Breuer, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Criminal Division, said in the statement.