1 Out of Every 4 CDs Sold on Amazon Is Counterfeit

Chinese counterfeiters are overrunning Amazon with fake discs.  And you don’t need an Amazon Prime account for these deals.

Every weekend, in a relatively quiet and quaint part of Los Angeles, you can find cheap kitchenware on sale. There are car parts, tools, blankets, and more, usually at bargain prices. There are also $5-10 counterfeit DVDs and cheap music CDs on sale. Usually cops patrol this now-crowded area, with sellers always on the lookout. They have to be quick. If not, their items are picked up and thrown into the back of a police car.

Piracy is everywhere. In the streets, in the back of a warehouse, online, and in more places. But try this on for size. According to a new Wall Street Journal report, they’re also available on top online seller Amazon.com. Here’s what they wrote:

In the latest challenge for the battered music industry, pirates are flooding Amazon.com Inc. and other online retailers with counterfeit CDs that often cost nearly as much as the official versions and increasingly are difficult to distinguish from the real goods.”

An unnamed record company told WSJ’s Hannah Karp that direct-to-consumer CDs were flat. Amazon account sales are down over 17% due to counterfeit CDs.

How exactly does this work? The American Association of Independent Music notified their indie-label members that Chinese pirates are flooding Amazon with counterfeit CDs. The pirates sell the CDs at just slightly less than their real counterparts. Amazon doesn’t have a clear-cut way to verify these CDs, as pirates start selling the counterfeit items “within about two weeks of an album’s release date.” Amazon even lists these products in their “buy box.”

The RIAA launched an investigation in August to determine how big this problem truly is. They placed 194 CD orders based on top search results for each album type. 44 CDs were counterfeit.  That’s approximately 1 in 4.  What’s worse is that Amazon fulfilled 18 counterfeit CDs, and not individual sellers.

The counterfeit products on Amazon were traced back to a CD manufacturing plant in China, according to a letter written to the U.S. trade representative. The letter stated,

The artwork, packaging and inserts are carefully copied in fine detail. The untrained eye would not even be able to identify them as counterfeits.

Russian counterfeits pay the same attention to detail on the exterior packaging but is “sloppy” in the interior, however, according to the same letter.

Brad Buckles told WSJ,

Amazon should not be playing host to illegal items that would normally be found on the black market.”

The study shocked Amazon. A company spokeswoman said that Amazon has “zero tolerance for the sale of counterfeits,” and

[is] working closely with labels and distributors to identify offenders, and remove fraudulent items from our catalog. We are also taking action and aggressively pursuing bad actor.

9 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    I found long ago products on Amazon that ship from CA have a much higher chance of being counterfeit. Not just CDs, but everything. Amazon has no way of knowing what is and is not counterfeit.

  2. John

    Amazon is promoting Chinese counterfeits merchandise and refuse to take those down. There are many post on amazon sellers forums about counterfeits Chinese listings and most of those sellers contact amazon to remove those listings but amazon refused to remove them.
    Amazon don’t care because because no matter who list products they make money either way. And our law? Amazon is above the law.
    Amazon soon be #1 breeding ground for counterfeits merchandise.
    On above link ‘just lunched’ sellers are all from china but they use USA, Canada address and it is against amazon policy but amazon refuse to admit that.

  3. Egbert Plume

    Simple answer – buy from local record and book shops (if Amazon have left you any).

    • Compact Disc

      There are almost no local stores left and the ones that are left have almost no inventory. If the RIAA want people to stop buying these fake cds, then they should make their entire music catalogue available to buy on CD. Many CD are not available anymore in stores or online. The only choice is illegal sources.

  4. Versus

    It’s not just counterfeit CDs, it’s counterfeit tech products that look like Apple products, etc. It’s disgusting.

    Amazon, it’s high time to come up with a real verification system for legitimate products. Start with permanently banning any third-party sellers found selling pirated items, and require them to refund the income derived therefrom.

  5. MyName

    Amazon making too much money to do anything about pirates. Only when CEO’s are held civilly and criminally liable will anything be done.

  6. DJ MichaelAngelo

    “1 Out of Every 4 CDs Sold on Amazon Is Counterfeit” = what a misleading deceptive headline! Daniel Adrian Sanchez, you should be ashamed of youself for such dishonest inaccurate reporting!

    “They placed 194 CD orders based on top search results for each album type. 44 CDs were counterfeit. That’s approximately 1 in 4.” = all that means is roughly 25% of the CD’s they cherry-picked to order were counterfeit! Not 25% of the entire stock of CD’s on Amazon as a whole! (which probably numbers into the tens of millions). This was a sloppy study, done by a biased group with an axe to grind, and even worse, a badly flawed article that screams a dishonest misleading headline to confuse people. Way to go guys.

  7. ThisGuy

    How about CDs sold specifically by Amazon? I’ve been “scammed” before in that way. Amazon will have some CD for sale, and when I get it in the mail it’s not as described. It’s super upsetting because it’s such a pain to sort out.