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FBI seize three websites in Android app piracy crackdown

The US Department of Justice has seized three websites that the agency said were trafficking in pirated Android apps.

The domains -,, and - are now in the custody of the federal government. Those who navigate to those sites are met with a note that says the domain has been seized by the FBI, as well as a warning about the penalties for piracy.

The DOJ said this is the first time US officials have seized domains related to the illegal sale of mobile apps.

"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," Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement.

The DOJ coordinated with FBI officials in Atlanta, as well as French and Dutch authorities, on the investigation.

Officials said they downloaded "thousands" of copyrighted apps during their probe. These apps are otherwise available for sale on legitimate Android marketplaces like Google Play. The DOJ said many of the servers storing the pirated apps were being hosted in other countries, hence the French and Dutch cooperation. Nine search warrants were executed in the US this week as part of the operation.

"We will continue to seize and shut down websites that market pirated apps, and to pursue those responsible for criminal charges if appropriate," said US Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.

The DOJ did not mention if anyone has been or will be arrested in connection with the website shutdowns.

The last high-profile government shutdown of a website for copyright violations was Megaupload earlier this year.