fbi doj

If you've been following the Applanet/Appbucket criminal case, you know that the Department of Justice and the FBI have been working on bringing charges against a number of high-profile Android app pirates for the last eighteen months. Earlier this month the investigations and arrests paid off, as two of the men responsible for large-scale Android app piracy in the United States pled guilty to conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. The DOJ reported the news on its official public affairs portal.

Nicholas Anthony Narbone and and Thomas Allen Dye, both formerly of the well-known piracy site Appbucket.net, were charged with one count each, and both pled guilty to the charges on March 10th. Dye will be sentenced on June 12th, Narbone on July 8th; the maximum possible sentence is five years in prison, but both will probably receive a reduced sentence for their pleas. According to the DOJ Narbone was the leader of the group, and at least one co-conspirator, Thomas Pace, has not plead guilty. One other man, Kody Jon Peterson of Florida, was associated with the SnappzMarket piracy site, and has also not plead guilty at this time. Both remaining plaintiffs may continue to trial or plead guilty, probably in the hopes of a reduced sentence.

Copyright infringement discourages smart, innovative people from using their talents to create things that the rest of society can use and enjoy,” said U.S. Attorney [Sally Quillian] Yates. “Theft is theft – whether the property taken is intellectual or tangible – and we will continue to prosecute those who steal copyrighted material.

The two convictions are the United States' first ever for mobile app piracy, but they certainly won't be the last. The Department of Justice estimates that the four men's combined sites distributed more than a million illegitimate apps with a cumulative value of over $700,000.

Source: US Department of Justice

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • yodatom10

    Glad to See the FBI and the DOJ cracking down on this. If we want devs to continue to mark great Mobile apps we need to support them not steal from them.

  • egendomligt

    Those charges will not be in your favour when prison hierarchy is established. Just sayin'

  • Oskya

    Why only Android ? Did feds ever crack down app piracy on iOS ?

    • Ricardo Ferreira

      You can sideload any app on Android. It's not the case for iOS..

      • Chippah


        • mckooter

          Mr Chipperson is right, :P

          cydia as of a few years ago gave a warning when adding a piracy repo as if to say we know what your doing here... but didn't stop it

          • Chippah

            Mckooter my pecka or sumphin tss tsss

          • Ricardo Ferreira

            It's harder for the average user to jailbreak an iOS hardware than it's to sideload an app on Android.

      • abobobilly

        Nigga please ...

      • [S]unjay Burn[s] Red

        You can sideload any app on iOS.

  • Neill Smith

    Dear science that is some disgusting equivocation in the prosecutor's sound bite. Infringement is in absolutely no way what-so-ever similar to theft or stealing and she's a criminal layer and should absolutely no better than to pretend that they are.

    • KingofPing

      Theft of rights is still theft, regardless of whether you've deprived anyone of physical property. This isn't the 80's anymore.

      • darkdude1

        Yet the law's are still dated back then...Funny that...

        • KingofPing

          If the government takes away your rights, you'd might well cry foul as most folk are wont to retain their basic rights. Same basic principle.

          Just because at the moment, in your current situation, you don't happen to think one of them is important doesn't actually change...anything. :)

          • SSDROiD

            I don't think that's what he meant. Nobody's taking about taking away your rights. But updating them. We're talking maybe updating them every 5th or 10th year. Technology these days moves that fast, but the laws haven't kept up. We're not cavemen any longer, we've passed the barrier into the year 2000, but the rules and laws act like we are living in the "old" age. We barely change any laws these days, and the laws we do change aren't related to the Internet, as far as I have seen. The Internet needs a much larger focus.

          • KingofPing

            You could be right...

            I agree we need to change how we handle them, but rather than thinking he meant anything in particular I rather didn't understand his point at all so simply related it to my original response of it being theft regardless.

            Translating sarcasm online is not the easiest thing in the world to do, you know. :)

          • Neill Smith

            Except when a government takes away rights you literally don't have those rights anymore, they are actually removed. When a copy of an app is made no rights are removed. They're not the same basic principle at all, they're completely different.

          • KingofPing

            You just said rights cannot be taken away.

            ...but now they can.

            Do you read your own posts?

            Go ahead and keep digging. I won't promise I'll watch the show, but I am sure it'll help the next time you try to rationalize it all away.

          • Neill Smith

            No I did not say rights cannot be taken away. I said that when a copy is made rights aren't taken away. I read my own posts but you apparently don't. Well, you read them perhaps but you inadvertently or intentionally refuse to understand them and then post back nonsensical replies based on things no one ever said. Way to completely ignore the rather obvious whole that was blown in your 'logic' though, real convincing.

      • SSDROiD

        Copyright is a very difficult type of rights. It's not like human rights.
        Society really doesn't care about copyright and for good reason. The companies and people dealing with copyright haven't changed their mindset about it in years, while the public has (that's why torrents are insanely popular). Let's face it, copyright is dying until the copyright holders manage to change how they distribute their material.

        • darkdude1

          Exactly. Piracy isn't going to stop any time soon, there is a reason sites like thepiratebay are insanely popular - just look at Spotify and Google Play Music, they got it right. A fair price and millions of tracks, which is something I'd be willing to purchase. Apps on the other hand...I'm not going to purchase plex 3-4 times so I can set it up on different devices with different Google accounts. Just like a physical disk, I want to share my paid apps so others can use them for free...You wouldn't buy a movie 3 different times, and the same applies for apps.

          • SSDROiD

            I'm on the trial period for Google Play Music All Access now because it just launched in my country. They have a 1-month trial period. That could've been skipped for me. I want to pay them hahaha. And quite frankly, if they ever were to introduce lossless music at a fee, I'd be all over that too! I can finally put an end to pirating music! Haven't pirated a single song since I first got Spotify 3 years ago.

          • BigBoab

            I have never came across any Android app that cannot be installed on all my devices from Play store. 1 purchase, use on all devices.

        • KingofPing

          None of which changes the truth of my post.

          Theft of rights, be they copyright, speech, privacy, or any other is still theft.

          ...regardless of how you, a lawyer, or "Society" feels on any given day of the week.

          • SSDROiD

            The difference lies in how the system treats it. They go after the pirates doing it rather than find us legal alternatives. Prosecuting a pirate will only lead to more pirates. Coming up with a decent, legal alternative and the pirates will flock to that instead. We don't WANT to do something illegal, but we refuse to follow the ridiculous minds of the copyright holders. Spotify and Google Play Music All Access is what we want. Sure, in the future we also want more features and lossless music, but we are still going to be paying for it. That's the true answer to solve digital piracy.

          • KingofPing

            None of the above makes it other than theft.

            Sure they treat it differently; Anything less would be beyond ridiculous (and as you and many others have inferred, it's pretty ridiculous as it is).

            You may believe it to be justified...and it very well may be; But it is still theft of rights until or unless it is given away freely by those to whom the rights belong.

            In fact, knowledge of the concept and the conscious decision to continue in the doing of it is actually far more honorable (in it's own way) than the doing of it while denying the truth of it.

            (I never said it was the same as stealing bread, simply that it was indeed theft. It is different, to be sure - on that we agree.)

          • SSDROiD

            Of course piracy is theft of rights and it's illegal. That I fully understand and agree with. But when we see things like these; pirates being prosecuted, all I think is "Lots of money spent on prosecuting these pirates when new ones will show up any day and this money could've been spent on making a decent, legal alternative".

            Fact is, had every pirate legal case ever opened been used to build a legal distribution service instead, that service would've been superior and superb and outright futuristic. The development is slow simply because the legal system has the wrong focus. But that's not news; the legal systems, the laws and the government have had the wrong focus for over a century. The public is the only one truly up-to-date. It has even come to the place where the public is ASKING for legal alternatives. We're basically BEGGING for it. We love what we see and would love to pay for it - but they have to meet us where we are. But the government and other legal entities; "NOOOOOOPE! Here's a fine."...

          • KingofPing

            "Of course piracy is theft of rights and it's illegal."

            Well, that's all I really said in my first response.

            The rest is indeed arguable; and it is a debate many administrations have had. If I recall, the patent office has requested public opinion recently in regards to this. It is a discussion that we definitely need to continue having; however, the only real reason for my original post above was to correct the OP's attempt to redefine theft. :)

            All I can say I I have felt the way you describe in the last bit of your post there. I'd love to be able to stream a specific show...but neither Netflix nor Hulu nor Prime has it available. I couldn't pay for it in the format I want it in...they won't let me. I can *find* it in that format, obviously...but I can wait. :)

          • SSDROiD

            It's great that you can wait, that's fantastic and you're doing a very good thing! Unfortunately, I am extremely passionate about TV shows and refuse simply out of principle to wait until my local TV stations air them (if they air them at all, many don't) with local bad subtitles, commercials and in their own weird schedules. It's regional discrimination because I don't get to choose. I want it when the general American public gets it and I refuse anything less. I won't come to them, so they'll have to come to me because I am the one with the power to get it. So give me a service that offers the TV shows I love, immediately upon U.S. airing, in HD and preferably with a good Android app and I'll LOVE to pay for it. I'll literally be happy and proud to pay the bill. But I haven't even been offered it yet. :(

            And back on topic, instead of using the free version of an app if I love it, I buy the Premium version of all the apps I love (if one is available) to show my support. It's being delivered to me just like I want it and I'll happily pay for it! :)

          • Neill Smith

            Theft of rights isn't a real thing but 'theft' implies something is taken, tangible or intangible, so the metaphor parses to mean the removal of rights. When infringement occurs literally nothing is taken, tangible or intangible. The copyright holder's copyrights are still in tact, they still have those rights and are at their liberty to exercise them against the infringing party and, in cases where violations rise to the level of criminality, they still have a right to contact law enforcement to seek justice. None of those rights are magically removed when an app is copied hence no theft of rights occurs. To hear you say it literally every crime against another, as all crimes are a violation of rights, would be theft and as such you've equivocated the term to the point of utter meaninglessness. Theft is specific and it clearly does no apply hear even in your strained metaphor.

          • KingofPing

            Well, you're trying, I'll give you that.

            Nothing taken... Gotta love the depths you "it's not theft" folks will go to to rationalize this.

            Theft is the use of something that does not belong to you without the permission of the person or persons to whom it belongs. It does not matter one whit whether they can still use it or not.

            You do not have to accept it...but there it is.

            As for meaninglessness, that's your entire goal, is it not? To dilute the argument and discussion to the point that even the act of discussing it is utterly pointless?

          • Neill Smith

            Rationalize nothing. No one said anything about justifying it or even explaining it. This is about calling it what it actually is and not conflating it with something else. If we refuse to call it murder is that a rationalization too?

            Even using your definition of theft, which isn't really what theft means, it's not theft because nothing is used that belongs to someone else. Do you not understand that copying creates a new copy? Something that didn't exist before? Nothing is more ludicrous than arguing it doesn't matter if they can still use it or not because it is the very fact that with real, tangible goods use implies excluding the owner of use that there's even a word theft.

            The only one diluting anything is you and those like you that would conflate disparate terms together just to win a few rhetorical points with those who don't notice and call them on it. You have been so called. The discussion is only pointless because you are wrong by definition and no amount of pointing that out will apparently bring you to see much less admit you are wrong.

      • Neill Smith

        Rights aren't taken when infringement occurs. Theft of rights isn't even a real thing, it's a mixed metaphor on top of what was already a broad conflation.

        • KingofPing

          It isn't real? But you say below the government can do it....

          "Except when a government takes away rights you literally don't have those rights anymore, they are actually removed"


          • Neill Smith

            I said the government can take rights away, not that when they do it's 'theft of rights.' I pointed out that you're using a metaphor when you say 'theft of rights' below and that when the government denies people their rights it's a completely different thing too but apparently you missed all that. Interesting... No, the other thing. Tedious.

  • cellabonez

    i am a pirate of the caribbean