22
Aug
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One small and two major sites that have a long history of distributing pirated Android apps have been seized in a first of its kind operation conducted by the FBI, DoJ, and a variety of U.S. and foreign governments. These sites are:

  • applanet.net
  • snappzmarket.com
  • appbucket.net

seized

Each of the taken down hosts is now displaying this FBI seizure notice

According to PC World, FBI agents downloaded numerous copies of paid Android apps as part of the operation before seizing all three domains and executing nine search warrants on August 21st. It's a little unclear whether the FBI and the DoJ will be pursuing criminal action against the site operators or whether anyone was detained. In fact, we don't know if the government is even aware of the perps' identities.

Applanet, the largest of the three sites, was advertising a database of over 15,000 Android applications, according to the information still present in cached Google search results. It has amassed a following of over 88,000 people on Facebook and 21,000 on Twitter (smile for the camera, pirates).

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SnappzMarket and AppBucket were much smaller, with 16.4k and 492 Facebook likers, respectively. SnappzMarket was advertising access to over 50,000 apps.

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Let this be a warning to numerous underground warez sites who are contributing to the high piracy rates present on both major ecosystems - iOS and Android. Whether making piracy less accessible actually translates into proportionally better app sales for developers is questionable, but the moral side of the story is unambiguous - piracy is illegal, and pirates are getting what they deserved.

Great job, government officials (that's definitely something we don't say very often).

Update: Here's the statement from the DoJ:

Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Federal Courts Order Seizure of Three Website Domains Involved in Distributing Pirated Android Cell Phone Apps

First Time Website Domains Involving Cell Phone App Marketplaces Are Seized

WASHINGTON – Seizure orders have been executed against three website domain names engaged in the illegal distribution of copies of copyrighted Android cell phone apps, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates of the Northern District of Georgia and Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Lamkin of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office announced today.  The department said that this is the first time website domains involving cell phone app marketplaces have been seized.
The seizures are the result of a comprehensive enforcement action taken to prevent the infringement of copyrighted mobile device apps.  The operation was coordinated with international law enforcement, including Dutch and French law enforcement officials.

The three seized domain names – applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com – are in the custody of the federal government.  Visitors to the sites will now find a seizure banner that notifies them that the domain name has been seized by federal authorities and educates them that willful copyright infringement is a federal crime.

“Cracking down on piracy of copyrighted works – including popular apps – is a top priority of the Criminal Division,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer.  “Software apps have become an increasingly essential part of our nation’s economy and creative culture, and the Criminal Division is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect the creators of these apps and other forms of intellectual property from those who seek to steal it.”

“Criminal copyright laws apply to apps for cell phones and tablets, just as they do to other software, music and writings.  These laws protect and encourage the hard work and ingenuity of software developers entering this growing and important part of our economy.  We will continue to seize and shut down websites that market pirated apps, and to pursue those responsible for criminal charges if appropriate,” said U.S. Attorney Yates.
“The theft of intellectual property, particularly within the cyber arena, is a growing problem and one that cannot be ignored by the U.S government’s law enforcement community.  These thefts cost companies millions of dollars and can even inhibit the development and implementation of new ideas and applications.  The FBI, in working with its various corporate and government partners, is not only committed to combating such thefts but is well poised to coordinate with the many jurisdictions that are impacted by such activities,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Lamkin.
During the operation, FBI agents downloaded thousands of copies of popular copyrighted mobile device apps from the alternative online markets suspected of distributing copies of apps without permission from the software developers who would otherwise sell copies of the apps on legitimate online markets for a fee.  In most cases, the servers storing the apps sold by these alternative online markets were being hosted in other countries, and our international law enforcement partners assisted in obtaining or seizing evidence stored on these servers.  Nine search warrants were also executed in six different districts across the country today as part of the operation.

The operation reflects a coordinated effort by the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and the Office of International Affairs; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia; the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office; and six other U.S. Attorney’s Offices, including the Southern District of Mississippi, the Middle District of Florida, the Western District of Michigan, the Southern District of Indiana, the District of Rhode Island and the Northern District of Texas.

The FBI is a full partner at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center).  The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy.  The IPR Center uses the expertise of its 19 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property (IP) theft.  Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.  To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.
The enforcement actions announced today are one of many efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force).  Attorney General Eric Holder created the IP Task Force to combat the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes, protect the health and safety of American consumers, and safeguard the nation’s economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation and hard work.  The IP Task Force seeks to strengthen intellectual property rights protection through heightened criminal and civil enforcement, greater coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and increased focus on international enforcement efforts, including reinforcing relationships with key foreign partners and U.S. industry leaders. To learn more about the IP Task Force, go to www.justice.gov/dag/iptaskforce/.

Source: PC World

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • Adam

    Great news!

    • Kenny O

      I agree. I wish people would realize that when developers do not make any money on apps, they don't develop for the platform. I'm all about a free app, but if I enjoy the app or it's very useful to me - the best way to show it is to pay up.

      • montgoss

        I wish developers would realize that when they don't develop for the platform, they don't make any money on apps.

        • GazaIan

          Your comment wasnt serious.

          • montgoss

            It was serious. You know how many iOS apps I've bought? None. How many Android apps I've bought? Dozens. So, if you only make an app for iOS, you are not getting any money from me.

    • wat?

      Not really, due process much?

  • jammer

    Do you guys sleep?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Sometimes. But this extra strength 5-hour-energy is making it hard.

  • serrastone

    Wow, doesn't the FBI and DOJ have anything better to do than this?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      They doesn't.

      • dixie

        Please learn proper english.

        • mduran1023

          Please learn proper "engrish."

          *fixed it for ya :D

        • GazaIan

          You missed the word play.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Sounds like a lot of work.

          Please learn proper Internet trolling.

  • Bas

    The link to Appplanet is purple... I see what you did there.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I went and checked out what the FBI logo on the page looks like so I can paste it into the article. Oh noes!

      • Mikey

        I hope you have permission to use their IP.

        • MeCampbell30

          DOJ logos and trappings are in the public domain. The only crime would be if Android Police were trying to impersonate a federal agency. I wasn't confused.

  • pelya

    Please seize 4pda.ru - that naggy noobs haven. Not only they pirate, they complain and demand the devs' attention.

    • Himmat Singh

      Well, that's a Russian site. You know, not all pirate sites are bad. For example, Chinese 'pirate' sites give users access to paid Android apps (they don't have paid apps in China officially!).

      • SoffMouf

        This is not a valid excuse, and needs to stop being used as one.

        • Chris Sewell

          Well, I disagree. Chinese sites that offer up paid content that they can't actually pay for isn't costing the developers. Because it's not a lost sale. The people pirating that material aren't people that would have purchased it to begin with. The only time it's actually harmful is if the app is costing extra bandwidth / server costs which very few Android apps if pirated would. I'm against piracy here, but let's not go lighting torches and chasing down everyone without further understanding it.

          tl;dr: if someone wouldn't have previously purchased your app, and they pirate it, it doesn't translate to a lost sale and therefor not lost revenue. If anything it'll lead to more sales due to increased word of mouth to people who would normally purchase it.

          • jbo1018

            Still a bullcrap excuse. Piracy is stealing. Devs shouldn't have to pay for the Chinese governments block on paid apps. With your rationale its ok to steal anything you don't have access to legally. If a felon can't get approved to buy a handgun is it ok to breakinto the gun store and just take it? Where is the line drawn? It can't be ok to steal some things because of this or that excuse and not ok for other stuff. Life just doesn't work that way.

          • Himmat Singh

            "With your rationale its ok to steal anything you don't have access to legally."

            As far as I can tell, that is precisely my rationalization. As the mighty Steve Jobs once said, it ain't piracy if there ain't a legal avenue to obtain the said stuff (that's what made him create iTunes - to combat music piracy via P2P software).

          • SoffMouf

            You just proved my point - Steve didn't condone piracy, he produced a product to help fix the problem.

          • Himmat Singh

            Yes, but my main point is that piracy is justified so long there is no legal avenue to obtain the said stuff. Full-stop. My conscience is clear on that much.

          • SoffMouf

            So you steal because you can't live without an app or movie. Fantastic.

          • Himmat Singh

            Well, try living outside of the US, where you get all the news, trends and what-not from there yet you cannot legally enjoy their entertainment for the most part. Having said that, I buy legal stuff (be it games, apps, movies, books) whenever possible.

          • shabbypenguin

            Have you thought about putting your app on other markets? i see both sides of the argument and having an app market that doesnt care about countries would then mean there could be no reason to pirate your app besides the obvious.

          • Cheeseball

            Then what dedicated devs need to do is find other avenues to get their products out there. Don't just rely on the Play Store/Amazon AppStore/etc. If you're angry about people pirating your apps, do something about it by finding ways to distribute legally and don't rely on DRM/TPM.

          • Sky

            Congratuations. You've just compared physical objects to digital media. Get off the Internet.

          • SoffMouf

            So physical objects take blood, sweat, and tears to produce, and digital media just appears out of thin air? Yikes.

          • apache12

            Actually, yes. That's accurate. I can make 100 copies of your app right now with exactly 0 blood, sweat or tears. I cannot make 100 cars the same way. I know it takes work to produce an app, but more copies does not equal more work. If the people in China cannot buy your app, it's not like they're costing you extra work or money by making their own copies. They don't actually have an effect on your bottom line at all. You don't make less money, and you don't work any harder. Stop worrying about them, because they don't matter.

          • jbo1018

            I don't see the distinction. Legally there is one but that doesn't change the fact that piracy is taking something someone worked hard to create and not paying for it. By the way saying "get off the internet" like some wanna be cool kid makes you sound like a complete tool. Grow up your not the king of the internet no matter how many likes your Justin Bieber impersonation video on You Tube got.

          • apache12

            The devs don't pay for the Chinese anything. People in China pirating apps that they couldn't otherwise buy costs the dev exactly nothing. That's why it's NOT stealing. It doesn't affect the developer's bottom line in any way whatsoever.

          • SoffMouf

            Here's a thought. App's aren't necessary for basic survival, even though the party line seems to think so. You will not die without an app. No level of rationalization is going to change that. So stop cracking my app that I spent thousands and thousands of hours on just because you don't have paid apps in your country, and instead focus your efforts on getting Google to support your country. And if your country is the problem, maybe you should move if you want to play. Too much hassle? Naw, just steal from me instead.

          • Himmat Singh

            Dude, don't you get it? They aren't stealing from you....no, not at all. They'd gladly pay if possible, but just that they can't.

            Here's a thought: Transformers (or any big movie) is released, but isn't showed or sold in China. Are you saying they don't have the right to watch the movie, even if it is through supposedly illegitimate means?

          • SoffMouf

            The "right"? Dude, get some perspective - human beings have the right to clean air, water, shelter. Apps, movies, etc. are entertainment. They're toys. Toys that I sweat to create in exchange for currency. So no, you don't have the "right" to steal something you don't need to survive. Christ no wonder the world is in the state it is.

          • Himmat Singh

            You know dude, the main thing is that if you could never in a billion years buy the app, then getting it for free makes no difference to the dev. That's not stealing and it doesn't result in lost revenue.

          • SoffMouf

            "Never in a billion years" is bs. It's a matter of code and approval, not planetary alignment. You're rationalizing theft.

          • Himmat Singh

            No I'm not. But really, the essence of what I'm saying (and please try to understand it!) is that if there really is no legal way for you to get something, it is only just to go out there and look for it "illegally". By doing this, nobody loses out...not the devs, not the 'pirateer' nor Google.

          • Mark

            I'm pretty sure the devs do lose out; they have to work for hours and hours on updates and fixes which they know will soon go out to people who haven't even paid for the app. The community of paying customers in turn lose out as developers become frustrated with the piracy levels and stop doing what they do.

            Being able to buy an app is not a "human right". You can't try and take the moral high ground on that one.

          • apache12

            It's not like they're doing any extra work just for the pirates, like you're implying. They're fixing their app for the people who can buy it. Why should he care if people in China get the fix too? It's not like he does more work or makes less money. They don't even factor into the equation if they're not allowed to buy his app to begin with.

          • montgoss

            No one is rationalizing theft because he didn't steal anything from you. Regardless of how many hours you put into development, you can't claim someone else stole those hours from you. You voluntarily spent that time. So, what have you lost that this person supposedly took from you?

            Just because you spent a long time on an app doesn't mean everyone is now required to give you money. You have to make them WANT to give you money. You also have to ALLOW them to give you the money (or in this case, Google has to allow them).

            You shouldn't waste your time worrying about piracy. Even if you could stop it all (hint: you can't), who does that help? If they didn't want to pay you before, they certainly aren't going to want to pay you now! So, if you concern is making money, you will get a much better return on investment by focusing on making your app better. Make your app the best app anyone has ever seen and people will gladly give you money. Be human. Be awesome.

          • StiH

            Owning and android phone isn't necessary for basic survival either, yet they are sold in bulk in countries where Google doesn't support online payments. So selling hardware with Android is great for Google, but letting people actually use what they bought in full is a bad bad thing, just because they have to look to other places than Play Store for content? In your logic, if you don't like people that pirate your app because they can't actually pay you for it, then don't code since it's not necessary for your basic survival (you can live from flipping burgers).

          • SoffMouf

            So because I code for enjoyment and not survival, you have the right to steal from me. Makes sense.

            Well guys, I'd love to continue this conversation but I have to get back to work. These apps aren't gonna steal themselves.

        • faguloisoid

          shut the fuck up, cuntface, it is a valid excuse if the company wont allow the person to buy the product. what the fuck do you expect them to do huh punk? god some people are fucked in the head huh?

          • SoffMouf

            They sure are, Philip.

          • Raislin

            @SoffMouf:disqus Devs like you are the reason I'm careful which app I purchase.

            There are SO MANY devs out there who will gladly develop knowing that many people who don't have access to their apps directly will find a way to download it. Those people (in this case Chinese Android users) WILL pay for apps and use them if they could.

            Your argument about apps/media not being necessary to human survival is very short sighted. On the surface, yes, it's true. The short-sightedness I would like to point out in that argument, though, is that life isn't about surviving. It's about living and enjoying it.

            One of the biggest media distribution methods isn't available to them. They're not pirating because they are the scum of the Earth and are low-life thugs who are out to screw you out of your 99 pennies. As mentioned MANY times by others, they WOULD pay if they COULD. This means that YOU, who so obviously is struggling to survive, are NOT losing out on their sales; in fact, they are potential sales and if you could find a way to distribute to them legally, you'd see they'll pay.

            And in the end, piracy isn't stealing. It is detrimental, it does cost billions if not more in lose revenue throughout all the industries, but it isn't stealing. They do not obtain the only copy/copies of the item they're pirating and use it for their own gain. Pirating is pirating. It sucks. Things should be done about it and to change it, but it's not stealing.

        • Himmat Singh

          Really, not a valid excuse? I'd love to put you, as an avid Android enthusiast, in China and see how you survive w/o paid apps.

        • Innominate

          Well, I purchase 99% of apps I find useful, and all I can say is I hope I've never bought one of yours. Do you mind sharing some of your apps? Your way of thinking is extremely outdated.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

        As a general stereotype though Russians and Chinese are very big on hacking and piracy. No offence to Artem or any other people who obtain their content legally. For example; the R4 cartridge for the Nintendo DS was invented in China!

        Then again; Ukrainian != Russian, although the language is the same.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Is that why you stopped development on Android? I have been waiting for some more brilliance from you, pelya, but you haven't released anything in a year.

    • mediasol

      +1

  • MERCKLE

    Honestly it had its ups and downs. Think about it.... People will try out a lot more apps if they have the choice of a free paid app. But at the same time I would see more people paying for the paid apps after that. Not saying that I have downloaded pirated apps bu I would like to try them out before I buy. I know that we have a 15 min Window but sometimes you need more time with it. I personally would buy them after wards because I like the support that comes with a great app.

    *I'm not sure they did a study with music that people that pirated music bought more music then people that don't pirate music... Weird right?

    • Mister E

      I agree, I think we definitely need a longer trial period from the market. At least 1 hour, I think. A lot of times, by the time I buy and download a big game, then download the extra data pack from the third-party servers, 15 minutes is either up or nearly so. It would also be nice if the timer didn't start until you actually booted up the game. Sometimes I want to buy something at the office when I see it, but don't because I'll have to waste time trying it out.

      This would probably give people more of a chance to return impulse busy and games that do work, but that they just didn't like, but that's not such a bad thing. Maybe it would discourage some of the crappier apps.

  • http://digg.com/users/OmegaWolf Silver Fang

    Just remember, these are the same people who crack down on video remixes and music downloads.

    • Josh

      You're making it sound like one is ok and the other isnt. They're fucking morons if they really think they can keep up or even put a dent in piracy. It's like the war on drugs, all you do is push it underground and piss people off. Look at the battle over demonoid and how anon has vowed revenge...

  • Roman

    fuck fbi :/

  • Joris

    I know 2 other major sites they should probably break down...
    I used to download them because payed apps wasn't available in Belgium.
    But the moment it was available I purchased every single app I downloaded...

    • Himmat Singh

      Ok, so when you couldn't get paid apps, the two websites served their purpose well, but now that you can get paid apps legitimately, you want them to be shut down? How selfish. What has the world come to...

      • Joris

        The Play Store has been updated many many times since then.
        I don't know many countries where they can't get paid apps nowadays...
        So what I'm saying is that people nowadays use those sites just to pirate those apps so they don't need to buy them

        • Himmat Singh

          So you saying it's more convenient for people to pirate $0.99 games (sometimes even free games) if they could buy it through a legal channel? No, I don't think so.

          • Joris

            How many people pirated "Dead Trigger"? A game costing less than a dollar...

          • Himmat Singh

            See my comment right above - it's bullcrap. Do some research dude, don't just regurgitate what AP and MadFinger feeds you. It's all in the name of marketing that Android's piracy situation was made a scapegoat. There's a lot of literature on this subject matter on the Internet.

          • Joris

            http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2012/05/wired-uk-android-game-piracy/

            "There are, of course, some people who would not buy or play a game if it wasn’t available for free, but there are also some dishonest people who pirate things they would otherwise buy, just because they can."

            "Just because they can..." I did some research... It's not bullcrap...

          • Himmat Singh

            Mate, the article you referenced was referencing a game costing no less than USD9.99. Of course, people would want to save that much of money if possible. But Dead Trigger cost a freaking $0.99, no one in their right mind would pirate it if buying it was just so much easier.

            And since you brought this up, the game football manager had a 9:1 piracy ratio but they still lived. Dead Trigger had a 4:1 ratio and they folded. Like what the heck?

          • GazaIan

            Buying Dead Trigger IS much easier (matter of a fact, buying ANY app is a lot easier). But guess the fuck what, not everyone wants to use credit cards with their Play Store account and Play Store doesn't supply gift cards. If I have no way of buying it then pirating it is the way to go.

          • Himmat Singh

            Exactly. That's what I'm saying - if given the option, people would readily buy stuff on Google Play. But Google's high nose in preventing PayPal as one of the payment options is hampering lots of devs. Many people feel insecure in attaching their CC to their Play account. In this case, it's really hard to say but in general it's justified to pirate apps.

          • shabbypenguin

            you mean those fancy play cards announced like last week?

          • GazaIan

            They were announced yesterday, not last week. They were leaked numerous times from last week, and they arent launching until next week.

          • shabbypenguin

            apologies i thought they were announced some bit ago. regardless it is one less reason for people to not go buy some awesome apps :)

          • jbo1018

            Another sorry a** excuse. As of now the play store does take gift cards and prepaid credit cards have been around for a LONG time. Also piracy is never the way to go no matter what rationalization your trying to use. You are taking someone's hard work without compensating them for it. Considering it seemsto be a large consensus the paying someone a dollar or two for their hard work is too much to ask so it should just be taken. I'm not surprised the world is headed in the direction it is.

          • GazaIan

            Sorry ass excuse? Your comment is full of ignorance. Not everyone lives in the most served countries. Play Store has only had an official announcement yesterday, and nothing but leaks, and still isn't launching until 4 days from now, not to mention it's only in the US. Maybe you didn't know this, but not everyone lives in the US. Secondly, prepaid credit cards are not available everywhere. Some people legitimately cannot buy prepaid credit cards. And lasty, explain to me, just how the fuck can someone pay for an app if the Play Store is not open in their country? They can't. If they developer isn't selling it on a secondary supported market then just how the fuck can they get it? That's where piracy comes in.

        • Legendary

          China.

      • GazaIan

        How in the hell is that selfish? He actually WANTED to pay for the apps but couldn't.

        • Himmat Singh

          I'm saying it's selfish because now that he CAN pay already he wants them shut down!

        • Legendary

          Because there's still users out there that want to pay for apps but can't (like the situation that Joris used to be in). But Joris doesn't care, he now can pay for the apps, so no one else should get to do what he used to do.

  • Greyhame

    Wow. Glad to see they're cracking down on operations that lend no benefit to the community.

  • Cybrjaz

    Not that I'm trying to justify the pirating of anything ... but doesn't the DoJ and the FBI have anything better to do ... like Fast & Furious or perhaps going after the Blank Panthers for voter intimidation ... seems to me that shutting down three websites who post maybe 20K apps - most of them likely to be outdated - is a bit ... well ... petty ...

    • MeCampbell30

      The politics site is that way, bro. ------->

  • Brian

    "the moral side of the story is unambiguous - piracy is illegal, and pirates are getting what they deserved."

    The morality of piracy is certainly not unambiguous. Just because something is illegal does not make it immoral. Determining what each individual "deserves" from a moral standpoint is complicated and debatable. Morality and the criminal justice system are not black and white issues as you seem to believe.

    • montgoss

      This is why we shouldn't punish people/businesses before the trial (or at least formal charges). But don't tell that to the DoJ...

  • Himmat Singh

    I think these pirate sites should continue to exist. The smarter ones probably already have their sites hosted out of the US. Whether you like it or not, pirate sites complement the Android platform perfectly. Don't listen to all the bullcrap fed by greedy devs like MadFinger; piracy on Android is no worse than on other platforms, chiefly iOS.

    More than one developer I have come across on Android has said that piracy works both ways. It's like a double-edged sword. Sure, there could be some lost revenue in there, but an increase in exposure leads to greater brand recognition, which invariably translates to more legitimate purchases at the end of the day.

    • montgoss

      The sites are still up. All the DoJ did was redirect the domain (hijacked the DNS). If you knew the IP address, you could continue using the site as normal. I'm sure the site operators already have another domain running.

  • Old Fart

    Good riddance. Pay the software authors and earn what you use.

  • mduran1023

    America! F Yeah!

    But seriously, this is good news for devs. A few less sites to worry about, even if there's a million others just around the corner.

  • Ohaioh

    honestly the only reason i ever pirate paid apps is to try them if there isnt a free version, and 90% of the time i buy them not long after

  • GazaIan

    I don't know how I feel about this... It's nice that these sites are gone, less piracy for the developers to worry about, but now that's the FBI and DOJ sticking their nosy dick into everything. Why don't they shut down Installous on iOS? Piracy on iOS would take the most critical hit ever.

    • John O’Connor

      lol @ nosy dick

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    Since a lot of people have gotten upset about my take on pirate sites, I'd like to chime in and expand further a little.

    When I mentioned "pirates," I meant the operators of sites dedicated to providing pirated/cracked apps. These sites thrive on advertising revenue in exchange for providing warez, and that's all they do. Some charge or used to charge membership fees. That's all they do, and they're vastly different from MegaUpload, which is a very ambiguous case that I cannot commend our government for handling right at all.

    Piracy is illegal in the U.S. no matter how you look at it or whether you are able to personally justify it for yourself, so in this case, the feds did what was necessary to take down the obvious offenders. If the site operators want to, they can argue the case in court - the process is still there. But the feds stepped in first.

    Think about it using this analogy: if you a police officer seeing a thief steal something at an electronics store, you're going to take action first, and then have the courts handle the rest in case the thief wants to argue he had the right to do what he did. But first, the perp gets arrested.

    Again, I'm all for due process, but there are vast differences between anarchy (and government doing what it wants) and what's happened to these clearly illegal sites as far as the U.S. law is concerned.

    As a developer (Android and otherwise) I do have pretty strong feelings about pirate site owners that distribute cracked paid apps, and I'm sorry if it spilled into the tone or the conclusion. To the person who said they're never coming back, I hope you stick around, we do a lot of great pieces I think you'll enjoy.

    I've tried to explain my point of view; of course, not everyone will agree with it. As a dev, I do stand by it.

    • Himmat Singh

      Well Artem, you really must look at it from the standpoint of a non-American, i.e. Asian, African, South American and Eastern European. In America, there is an obligation to get entertainment media like movies, tv shows, music, apps and games legally because the proper channels exist in a very, very simplified manner, but in the other parts of the world, most of these stuff cannot be legally obtained, hence the general acceptance of piracy. Trust me, more people than you think would gladly pay the full amount and get things the right way, but it's simply not possible.

      Case in point: Piracy is justified if there is no legal avenue to obtain said stuff.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        That's like saying if you don't have a credit card because you're not old enough, it's OK to steal things in a store, even if it's digital. I disagree with this. I hear what you're saying, but I disagree.

        • Himmat Singh

          Well, regarding not being old enough to have a credit card, it happened to me. Only recently was I eligible for a credit card, so before that I had to 'pirate'. But I had PayPal all the while, so it can partly be blamed at Google for not having more payment options (no parent will attach their CC to their child's Google account!). After all, my first 'legal' Android games purchase was Humble Indie Bundle for Android 1....and I was so overjoyed.

          Speaking from my point of view at that time and now, I don't think it's wrong to pirate if you're not old enough to own a CC. Just my PoV.

    • montgoss

      I don't care that these sites were shut down (ignoring the fact that they weren't actually shutdown. Only the domain was shutdown) . I've never used them or even heard of them before today. What we care about is HOW they were shut down.

      They claim that the operators can just challenge the seizure in court doesn't pass the laugh test. Ask Dajaz1. They tried to get their domain back. The government just stonewalled them and completely ignored the law that REQUIRED a hearing to keep the seized property for that long. Eventually, over a year later, the DoJ gave it back with no explanation or apology. That's just unacceptable and blatantly unconstitutional!

    • David Stallard

      Preach it Artem! Couldn't agree more that these dodgy operators should be shut down for peddling cracked apps that have cost developers hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands to develop.
      It's ridiculous that people decide they'd rather save a couple of bucks than support the developers who made the apps and likely continue releasing further updates to make the apps even better.

  • montgoss

    Can we please not act like this is all great? The DoJ seizing domains with zero due-process is never good.
    Maybe those sites were evil or whatever, but that doesn't justify this unconstitutional seizure!
    Let the accused have their day in court and let a judge decide whether the site should be taken offline until the trial is over. Instead, we have some goons over at the DoJ just arbitrarily deciding that they don't like these three sites.

    Note also that these sites are not offline. All they did was redirect the domain (DNS hijacking). I expect the site operators will have a new domain shortly (probably already).

    • MeCampbell30

      I don't think you know what due process means because there was a court order. If those guys want to fight it they need to hire some lawyers. They won't though because it was blatant pirating.

      • montgoss

        I don't think you have any idea what actually happened. There was no hearing and no charges brought. The DoJ just presented a list of sites and the DNS providers were ordered to comply. The redirected sites can try to fight it, but they will just be ignored. The DoJ held the domain of Dajaz1 for over a year before they quietly handed it back with no explanation or apology. Dajaz1 had their lawyers on it the entire time with no luck or real response from the government!

        • MeCampbell30

          Dude, I don't care about you little pity stories. Your friend probably didn't get his site back because he was a pirate. It says right in the title of the press release, "
          Federal Courts Order Seizure of Three Website Domains Involved in Distributing Pirated Android Cell Phone Apps."

          You simply don't know what you're talking about.

  • lucifer

    This makes no difference in the long term. I know of several foreign (think Chinese or Russian) sites that are still up and running which have all the paid apps updated whenever its available. I can still get whateva I want.

  • Cuvis

    What's the point of all this? Other sites will spring up to replace them. The web is designed to exchange information, and it can't be stopped from doing so in any meaningful way. If you want to make money, make something people want to pay for; stop worrying about fuckheads who won't pay for anything.

  • Mr Riggs

    I never even used those sites, plenty of better ones out there then those ones, ha.

  • petrochemicals

    So just the domains were seized? And this is legal because they were .net's and .com's. I would assume the servers are offshore, so what is to stop these site owners from getting a new domain that is not US controlled, like a .co, .se, or a .me?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

    This reminds me of the MegaUpload case.

  • Legendary

    "the moral side of the story is unambiguous - piracy is illegal"

    Law =/= morality

  • Karmatose

    Want to lower piracy rates on Android? Make it easy to pay for the apps. I'm a 30 year old man who's terrible with money so I don't want a credit card, and since I'm in Canada, I can't buy Play gift cards. That said, I have a massive Steam library because I can use paypal and always carry a balance on there.

    Make it easy and I'll spend my money. Until then, I'll look for free alternatives or pirate the few apps I actually need.

    PS: I've paid for my copy of Titanium Backup and Nova Launcher because the devs made it easy to do.

    • Himmat Singh

      Agreed. Not everyone has/needs a CC. Before I got mine, I paid Vector Unit a donation for their games via PayPal, and also purchased Humble Bundle ANdroid 1 & 2. Damn Google for being such high nosed about their own Wallet that they've not integrated PayPal into the Play store.

  • Noam

    This is neo liberalism at it's best.

  • HubbaBubba

    Isn't Android a version of Linux? Linux is open source and all software that runs on it is also by license. Which means it is impossible to pirate something that runs on it. I might be wrong about this, but that is my first impression.

    • MeCampbell30

      You're so far off, you shot a bazooka at a barn and still missed.

  • Mr corn flakes

    Man I just want to say FUCK THE POLICE!

  • i like free paid apps

    i lovrd applanet and snappzmarket, how long till a new one comes out, cause i would download a paid app and if if was good i would buy it through the play store. long live applanet

  • okami

    piracy isn't really that bad...yeah the people who created the product might in some way have gotten ripped off, but they got what they ecentually wanted, their prodtuced used, if i made a app and it got pirated, i would be glad, it means that people liked my product anough to share it, even though i wouldnt get the money, people are using my product.

  • Fuck_You_DOJ_&_FBI

    The worst part is that these guys will probably get more time than a fucking pedophile using the same Internet to look at kids. The US government is fucked up on so many levels.

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