The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), found that 25% of CDs “Fulfilled by Amazon” are counterfeit and 16% are fake on eBay.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which represents major labels Sony Music, Universal Music, and Warner Music, has found that a significant portion of CDs sold in online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon and Alibaba are fake.
In 2019, RIAA’s sample purchase program bought CDs from the top online platforms and found that
- 100% of new high-quality box sets offered for sale through eBay or AliExpress in the U.S. were counterfeit; and
- A recent sample purchase program found 11% of new CDs offered for sale on Amazon were fake
Counterfeits on Amazon
One of the findings of the study is that 25% of CDs bought from Amazon that is marked “Fulfilled by Amazon” are counterfeit.
Fulfilled by Amazon is a program that allows third-party sellers to sell their products on Amazon, and the products are packed, wrapped and shipped by the Amazon. Sellers list their products on Amazon and bulk ship any number of items to an Amazon warehouse. When an order comes through, Amazon workers pack and ship it like it’s an Amazon product. Sellers pay Amazon to handle shipping and fulfillment for them. Amazon explains the program in the following way – “You sell it, we ship it.”
In a response that Amazon released to DigitalMusicNews.com, Amazon stated that “counterfeit is an age-old problem, but one that we will continue to fight and innovate on to protect customers, brands, and sellers.”
Our customers expect that when they make a purchase through Amazon’s store—either directly from Amazon or from one of its millions of third-party sellers—they will receive authentic products. Amazon strictly prohibits the sale of counterfeit products and we invest heavily in both funds and company energy to ensure our policy is followed. We work with and empower brands through programs like Brand Registry, Transparency, and Project Zero to ensure only authentic products are sold in our stores. We investigate any claim of counterfeit thoroughly, including removing the item, permanently removing the bad actor, pursuing legal action or working with law enforcement as appropriate.
You can read the full statement from Amazon on DigitalMusicNews.com.
Impact of CD Counterfeit
While the numbers can be alarming, it is important to note that the RIAA sample is too small given the size of these online marketplaces to give a solid understanding of the problem. RIAA study found that “100% of new high-quality box sets” but note that RIAA only bought 40 boxsets on eBay and 32 on AliExpress. That’s much too small.
It is still quite easy to create a counterfeit CD. The music comes from digital copies so they are like the original. What takes more skills and can be complex is replicating the booklet and the CD jewel case and those sorts of things be identical to what is sold in the stores.
The problem of counterfeit music is significant. Given the vast reach of these online buying platforms, record labels and artists are losing substantial revenues on would-be sales. Even with the rapid growth of streaming and music downloads, CD sales in 2017 still accounted for $1.5 billion in revenues.
Music fans and consumers, who do not know they are buying fake CDs, are filling the pockets of music pirates instead of supporting the music industry and their favorite artists.