How many Counterfeit CDs Does Amazon Sell?

A provocative question–of course knowing the answer precisely would mean that Amazon actually knew which CDs were counterfeit to begin with.  That means we need to guess, but sometimes guesses are more accurate than we may give them credit for.

Example?  For years we heard that about 20% of songs on streaming services were unlicensed.  Turns out that’s pretty close to true.  When it’s expressed as a percentage rather than a raw number, it may not sound so bad.  20% sounds a lot better than 4 million, right?  This is an old Google trick–telling us that the amount of bad behavior is a low percentage.  They leave out the “of what” step, which in Google’s case is always an astronomical number due to scale.

That same basic theory works with Amazon, too.  While Amazon is busy stiffing songwriters with filing mass NOIs that absolve them from paying songwriter royalties, it turns out that Amazon is also making a tidy profit selling counterfeit CDs.

It’s also hard to extract the exact number of CDs that Amazon sells, but Soundscan reports about 34 million in sales in the “Internet” category.  Let’s be conservative at say that Amazon is about 1/3 of that number.  That would mean that based on recent estimates, Amazon sold about 2 million counterfeit records in 2015 alone.

Two million counterfeits sold by the smartest guys in the room.  A public reporting company that supposed to be at the leading edge of all things great and good.  More like the bleeding edge.

But this raises another question.  At one time, counterfeits were mostly major label releases of hit records that could hide in the cracks.  Based on the mass NOI filings, it now looks like some counterfeits may be stream ripped from YouTube and then sold as CDs.

It’s absurd that Amazon is a counterfeit swap meet, but it’s even more absurd that they didn’t see it coming.

Or maybe they did.


Must Watch: @gfhenderson: The Broken Promise of a Golden Age [At the Economic Club of Canada]

[Editor Charlie sez: This is a must-watch speech from Graham Henderson, a long-time supporter of artist rights from his base in Toronto.  

David says: “This is amazing. Graham Henderson is amazing. Canadian musicians have much better advocates than we US musicians have here in DC. In fact what have our advocacy groups in DC ever accomplished? I mean seriously!”]

On November 1, Music Canada’s President and CEO, Graham Henderson, delivered a moving address to the Economic Club of Canada on the erosion of creators’ rights in the digital age, and what can be done to re-establish a fair working environment.

Canada’s cultural industries were well represented with attendees from Sony Music Canada, Warner Music Canada, Universal Music Canada, The Motion Picture Association of Canada, the Writers’ Union of Canada, SOCAN, CIMA, CMPA, The Screen Composers Guild of Canada, the Ontario Media Development Corporation, Canada’s Walk of Fame, Ontario’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Re:Sound, and TD Music. Guests from Ryerson University, OCAD, Humber College, CGC Education, Colleges Ontario, and York University represented the education sector. MPPs Monte McNaughton, Lisa MacLeod, Rick Nicholls, Lisa Thompson and Steve Clark were also in attendance.

We were happy to have been joined by local musicians as well, including Miranda Mulholland, Amanda Martinez, Caroline Brooks of the Good Lovelies, Murray Foster, Alysha Brilla, Jay Douglas, Sonia Aimy, and Sally Shaar of Ginger Ale & The Monowhales.

The Economic Club of Canada’s President and CEO, Rhiannon Traill, who took on the role five and a half years ago with vision and passion, introduced Graham’s address. Rhiannon thanked Graham for the support he has shown for the Economic Club of Canada and for her as President and CEO, and praised Graham as a champion for Canadian culture.

“You’re about to hear a very important speech, and I am really, really proud to be hosting it,” she said. “Graham is an advocate, he is an innovator, he is a collaborator, a bridge builder, a visionary, and a truly great Canadian dedicated to advancing and protecting our country’s music, arts, and culture.”

Below is the full video of Graham’s speech, titled The Broken Promise of a Golden Age: How creators got squeezed out in the digital era, and what can be done to restore their rights.

@a2im: Serious Counterfeit Product Alert

ATTN: Serious Counterfeit Product Alert

Posted on October 18th, 2016 by A2IM

It has come to our attention that there is a serious counterfeit operation selling large numbers of CDs via Amazon’s FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) system.

It appears that this product is manufactured in China, but is almost indistinguishable from the genuine article to the extent that even the legitimate manufacturer cannot tell without very close examination.

The pirates are pricing slightly below the legitimate product and getting the “buy box” on Amazon. This enables them to take over sales, leaving the real thing on Amazon’s shelves and depriving artists, writers, labels, publishers, and distributors of any revenue from those sales.

Please note: The counterfeiter seems to be targeting fast moving recent releases and is able to bring illicit copy CDs to market within about two weeks of release date.

If you identify any product as counterfeit, please notify us immediately and retain any evidence.

If the label or distributor uses their copyright tool, Amazon will remove the fake product, but they only remove each SKU as it is reported leaving that pirate store’s other counterfeit releases up for sale.

It is worth noting that Amazon groups all products with the same UPC in the same bin, so product bought through the counterfeiter’s stores might result in legitimate product being delivered to the customer but the money will go to the counterfeiters.

Here are a couple of screenshots showing how this works:

Here you can see the seller is CALLAway in the buy box. The counterfeiters are using multiple store names.


Here you can see how they are an FBA seller. By undercutting legitimate inventory by $0.04 they are getting the buy box ensuring the legitimate product remains on Amazon’s shelves.

Again, if you identify any product as counterfeit, please notify us immediately and retain any evidence.

Here is a list of stores that are believed to be selling counterfeit product but they change names regularly:

See A2IM site for updated list of traffickers.

@hannahjkarp: Music Industry’s Latest Piracy Threat: Stream Ripping

More excellent reporting from Hannah Karp.

Earlier this year, a federal judge shut down the free music-download site and awarded $22 million to the record companies that had sued it for copyright infringement. But, which has surfaced in its place, is touting a service even more worrisome to the music industry: stream ripping.

That practice, which involves turning a song or music video played on a streaming service into a permanent download, is growing fast among young music fans, even as other forms of music piracy wane. The site’s community manager didn’t respond to requests for comment.

As music-streaming services blossomed over the past decade, so have mobile apps and sites allowing users to create MP3 files from songs streamed on free services such as Alphabet Inc. ’s YouTube. Fans can listen to the songs without YouTube’s ads—and without having to buy the songs or pay for a subscription service such as Spotify AB and Apple Inc. ’s Apple Music.

While streams can potentially be ripped from any music-streaming service—paid or unpaid—the most popular sites and apps allow users to convert YouTube videos into ad-free, audio-only downloads with a single click.

Read the post on Wall Street Journal thanks to Patrick @Courrielche for the link.

@eriqgardner: Appeals Court Upholds U.S. Government’s Seizure of Megaupload’s Mega-Millions

Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom is indeed a fugitive — and his failure to surrender himself to U.S. authorities on charges of racketeering and criminal copyright infringement will cost him an estimated $67 million.

On Friday, in the most significant legal development in the case since the U.S. government decided in 2012 to crack down on Megaupload, then one of the world’s biggest internet sites, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s decision to allow the feds to seize assets tied to what’s been deemed a “Mega Conspiracy.” The opinion today rejects Dotcom’s jurisdictional challenges to how the court made an order on property outside its reach and rejects the contention that a federal statute disentitling fugitives from defending property claims against government forfeiture actions is a violation of due process rights.

The decision marks a huge victory for the U.S. Justice Department as it eyes assets tied to foreign corruption — and represents a massive blow to Dotcom, who while still in New Zealand fighting extradition in a case now four years old, could find purse strings a big tighter.

Read the post on the Hollywood Reporter