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FBI works with online stores to clamp down on counterfeit goods

The FBI announced on Friday that it was launching a new strategy in collaboration with the Department of Justice, working with third-party marketplaces — such as eBay and Amazon — to enforce intellectual property laws by giving them analytical tools to work out when people might be selling fake goods. The strategy will also award more than $3.2 million to local law enforcement forces to train them in how to police copyright infringement, money that is to be split into chunks, with police departments — including those in Austin, Baltimore, New Jersey, and other major urban centers — awarded between $400,000 and $120,000 to combat piracy.

Loretta Lynch, the Department of Justice’s attorney general, detailed the new strategy in a press release, saying that the digital age has “revolutionized how we share information, store data, make purchases and develop products.” Lynch said that strengthening defenses against cybercrime was one of her top priorities as DoJ attorney general, referencing high-profile hacking cases such as last year’s Sony and Target attacks to demonstrate the “seriousness of the threat all business[es] face” for “sophisticated adversaries to inflict real and lasting harm.”

Although Lynch referenced big-name cyberattacks in her statement, the FBI and DoJ’s new strategy is targeted at those who make, advertise, and sell fake goods rather than “black hat” hackers or sites illegally torrenting or streaming copyrighted content. While the scheme intends to reduce the number of counterfeit goods on the online market, it doesn’t directly address online piracy of movies, music, video games, and other entertainment — a more pervasive form of online copyright theft. Both the Department of Justice and the FBI have made recent efforts to combat online piracy — the bureau shut down Sharebeast, the biggest music pirate site in the US, last month — but neither has yet found a successful way to clamp down on this more common kind of copyright theft.

By Rich McCormick 10/05/2015

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