I bought a used PS4 game from Amazon Warehouse. Well, the disc is obviously pirated (https://imgur.com/gallery/57eGpAc) and so when I contacted Amazon to report the matter, I was instructed to throw away the counterfeit.

For those who may not know, Amazon Warehouse is not a third party seller but an extension of their own company. From their own site:

Amazon Warehouse is a business of Amazon that sells quality used products and rents out used textbooks. We are a trusted destination for customers to find deals on used products at a discounted price.

Could this count as tampering/destroying of evidence in any way and could I be held responsible by the FBI? Additionally, does Amazon put me at legal risk since I am, unknowingly, buying illegal and copyright-infringed software?


So, the bad news, yes, possessing this may violate copyright laws and you could be at risk of that association.

Now, the good news, is that the FBI has more important things to do than to bust some kid over one pirated iteration of a game (I mean... they just raided the offices of the President's Lawyer... you're not even big enough to be considered a small fish). The FBI would be more concerned with the person who is mass distributing the pirated games than they are with you... at worst, they might ask you to confirm who you bought it from and possibly testify if they arrest that guy... and take the game.

I don't think Amazon is at risk because they are not the supplier... they are merely the people who facilitate the market space. (For a real world comparison, if you bought this at a Flea Market, the owner of the Flea Market is not responsible for the secondhand sale as their service is only the space provided).

  • The OP is certainly not violating any criminal copyright laws. That requires, among other things, that it be done "willfully". – D M May 2 '18 at 21:59

There is no law against unknowingly or even knowingly coming to possess a CD which contains illegally copied software. Installing or using it as software (as opposed to as a coaster) is illegal. Installing it, even if you don't know that the copy is pirated, is copyright infringement. So you were at risk, but dodged that bullet.

Suppose that somehow you had installed the game, gotten caught, and you get sued for infringement: can you sue Amazon? Maybe, but you would have to show that they were negligent. It would have been theoretically possible for them to detect that this was a counterfeit copy, but I think it would probably be unreasonable to expect they to engage in that level of over-scrutiny. So in the long run, it is unlikely that you can get anything out of Amazon.

Various forms of obstruction of justice are illegal under 18 UCC Ch. 73, and it is is illegal under 18 USC 1519 to "destroy evidence". But specifically

Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

You have to destroy evidence with the intent to impede, which it appears is not the case here. While the FBI is probably actively investigating the original distributors, the victims of the counterfeiting are almost certainly not of interest to them.

  • In your last sentence did you mean to negate this: "the victims of the counterfeiting are almost certainly of interest to them." E.g. "are almost certainly not of interest to them." – Brandin May 2 '18 at 15:01

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