Attention music shoppers: Some of those random sellers atop the price search listings on Amazon -- you know, the ones offering CDs for a few cents less than Amazon while still boasting the "Fulfillment By Amazon" (FBA) button -- may be too good to be true. Independent music trade organization A2IM issued a warning on Tuesday (Oct. 18) alleging a possible rash of counterfeiting across the mega-retailer, with rights holders and labels getting the shaft.
A2IM said it believes illicit copies of relatively new albums are being manufactured in China and are so close to the original that "even the legitimate manufacturer cannot tell without very close examination." Counterfeiters are pricing the albums slightly below Amazon's official versions in order to surface their bogus copies right above the genuine article. If you're one of the few people who doesn't own Chris Stapleton's Traveller yet, a price search brings up two sellers with the FBA button, with both pricing the album 13 cents cheaper than Amazon, which is the fourth result. The cheaper versions are even eligible for Prime -- a crucial point for many shoppers.
"This [act of price gaming] 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," A2IM warns. See an example below:
If a fake product is positively identified, Amazon will remove it from the website based on its stock keeping unit (SKU) code. However, the seller and its cache of other counterfeits could potentially remain. Harder still, Amazon warehouses group all products with the same universal product code (UPC) -- that Stapleton album, for example -- into one bin, meaning the fakes could still be sent to a customer, with the money going to the counterfeiters.
A2IM has compiled a lengthy list of possible counterfeiters across Amazon, and asks consumers to report anything sketchy. A scan of two of those listed sellers, Face Down S UP and Villamor, shows they have inventories with albums by Keith Urban, The Avalanches, Fifth Harmony, Dawes and Meat Loaf, among others.
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment about A2IM's warning.