Music industry group claims Amazon is selling counterfeit CDs

There is a "serious counterfeit operation" selling fake CDs on shopping website Amazon, the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) has warned.

The independent music trade body said in a statement that the counterfeit CDs are being sold via Amazon's Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) system, where items are sold by a third party but utilise Amazon storing, packing and delivery resources and are dispatched from an Amazon Fulfilment Centre.

A2IM believes the CDs are being manufactured in China, adding that the fakes are of a high quality. The CDs are "almost indistinguishable from the genuine article to the extent that even the legitimate manufacturer cannot tell without very close examination", it said.

The CDs that appeared to be targeted were fast moving recent releases and the counterfeiters were "able to bring illicit copy CDs to market within about two weeks or release date". No specific artists or albums were named by A2IM as affected by the illicit activity.

The pirates were pricing slightly below the legitimate product and getting the 'buy box' on Amazon, which lists them above Amazon's official versions. "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 these sales," A2IM said.

In some cases the fake copies are undercutting the legitimate CDs by just 4 cents US.

The counterfeiters were also using multiple store names, which are changed regularly, A2IM said. The trade body has identified more than 50 store names being used by the counterfeiters.

Amazon will remove fake products when identified but they will only remove each Stock Keeping Unit (the reference code for the listed product) as it is reported. A2IM said this meant other counterfeit items with different SKUs were still being sold.

"It is worth noting that Amazon groups all products with the same Universal Product Code 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 the counterfeiters," A2IM said.

At time of publication, Amazon, which has recently faced criticism for not doing enough to curb counterfeit listings, had not released a statement in response to the A2IM's claims.

According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which represents the global music recording industry, there are several indicators of a pirated CD, including:

  • no record company logos;

  • obliterated SID Code – the four character code that identifies the source of music and manufacture – or no SID Code at all;

  • poor quality inlay and graphics, often only in two-colour print;

  • poor paper quality;

  • incomplete, incorrect or no licensing or trademark details;

  • discrepancies between the disc and packaging; incorrect spellings;

  • no plastic cases; and

  • low cost.

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