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.
Software piracy sucks. Ask any developer: app piracy is a major problem on Android, and more so on Android than on other mobile platforms, thanks to the relative ease of installing applications outside of the Google Play Store. But the United States Department of Justice is not turning a blind eye to mobile piracy. The Department charged four men with conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement earlier this week in Georgia's northern federal district court.
Even casual observers of the Android ecosystem know that piracy is a big issue for developers. But if a report from mobile security company Arxan is to be believed, app piracy and "hacking" is incredibly prevalent, or at least prevalent enough that most of the popular apps are available in a pirated or cracked form. According to the company's "State of Security in the App Economy" report for 2013 (PDF link), the top 100 paid Android apps have been "hacked."
We used "cracked" in the headline because Arxan doesn't mention the purpose behind these hacks, so we're assuming that in most cases they're free, pirated versions of paid apps.
A couple of days ago, we ran a story about a circulating rumor that Google had expressed strong concerns with the launch of an Acer phone powered by Chinese Internet firm Alibaba's Aliyun OS. As the post explained, Alibaba claimed that Google had warned Acer that releasing the CloudMobile A800 could result in the search giant "terminating its Android-related cooperation and other technology licensing with [Acer]." These rather strong words led to speculation over just what the issue could be with Aliyun, and whether Google had issued the warning at all.
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:
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.
This may not be strictly Android-related news, but it's safe to say that what Google does to search results is relevant to our readers' interests, no? Today, Google announced via its Inside Search blog that the company will start including the volume of valid copyright removal notices as a factor in determining how high or low a site ranks in its search results. Translation: pirate sites won't be removed entirely, but they'll start ranking lower than legitimate sites.
When crowd-favorite zombie shooter Dead Trigger decided to drop its price from $0.99 to free, citing concerns over piracy, the tech world renewed its interest in an age-old debate: how bad is piracy for developers? Of course, any lost sale is money out of a developer's pocket (though it's important to distinguish between downloads and lost sales). However, the question should and needs to be answered: just how bad is the piracy problem on Android?
Madfinger Games has taken to its Facebook page to make an official statement regarding the decision last Friday to remove the $0.99 price tag from Dead Trigger. The decision, which has angered many users who had only recently paid for the game, can be summed up in one word: piracy.
Oh, RIM. You're hemorrhaging customers, executives, and share value. It's painfully obvious you're on track for a disaster of Palm-proportions. And still, your upper-level management fling zingers at the competition that would make anyone but the die-hardest of BlackBerry fans skip the facepalm and go straight to a facedesk. It's almost like watching a Shakespearean tragedy unfold.
If you've not been keeping up with the cutting edge of all things RIM, allow me to give you a quick run-down.
I never know how to feel about torrent (in this case, management) applications. On the one hand, torrenting is a brilliant and efficient way to share information in a collective and low-cost (read: free) fashion. On the other, it's the single largest gateway to piracy in existence. And it could kill you.
But it's clear torrenting applications are very much legal. So why has Google removed a popular torrent management application, Transdroid, from the Android Market?