If there is one thing I despise in the world of Android, it is piracy and specifically Android sites that let you download paid apps, oftentimes for a monthly membership fee. Most Android developers are not large corporations, but rather independent, smalltime individuals to whom every download counts. Today's story, therefore, gives me added pleasure, because in it, pirates are implicated in one of the most embarrassing ways I can imagine.
In a recent interview with Reuters, Gameloft stated that they will be focusing their attention on the Amazon App Store to distribute their games on the Android platform. The company's games are already insanely popular on Android (and iOS, for that matter), despite being actively opposed to Google's Android Market. Their Android offerings have thus far only been available on their website, so their move to a Market isn't so surprising.
The Android market is filled with apps of questionable legality. But oftentimes, overpriced, branded theme and clock apps like those you'll find here are considered relatively harmless - who's stupid enough to buy them, anyway? Still, apps in this category are in clear violation of registered trademarks - and that doesn't sit well with their holders.
Google even has a page for developers and copyright holders to submit DMCA takedown requests for apps on the Market.
Up until some recent events, it was quite hard to get through to Google regarding anything going on in the Android Market, be it stolen apps, copyrighted material, or getting any feedback regarding why your own app was removed. Sure, they still listened to DMCA requests and malware reports, but it seems that complaints by mostly large copyright owners saw any action, while reports by small-time developers getting ignored were getting abundant around the web.
Uhoh, he's at it again. No, I'm not going to make this a rant that is hugely controversial or upsetting. Seemingly contrary to what I write sometimes, I love Android. And anyone who loves Android can agree: the Android Market kinda-sorta sucks sometimes.
Whoa there, let me qualify that - some aspects of the Market are less than fantastic, and I think every Android user has come to realize this.
After we blew the faults behind Google's License Verification Library out of the water last week, Google's Tim Bray promised us some tips for protecting our applications against piracy, and in the latest post at Google's official Android blog he delivered them. Tim's article is loaded with easy to follow sample code, and advice that just makes sense.
We received an email from David Keyes at KeyesLabs today, with a detailed analysis of piracy in various countries. For those that don't know, David is the author of the battery saving app Screebl, and the open source licensing library AAL. A true pioneer in Android app copy protection.
According to David's data, the often used excuse of "Paid apps are not available in my country" is at least partly bogus.
Today I awoke to see a response from Tim Bray on the Android Developer's Blog regarding my previous article on circumventing the Android License Verification Library, and I almost completely agree with him. The License Verification Library is a very good start - above and beyond what, if anything, Google owes developers. Copy protection is and should be the responsibility of the developer. Google has given us a great tool, provided thorough documentation, and even open sourced the project.
[Update: 8/24/10 @ 7:45 PM EST by Aaron] Tim Bray responded to Justin's article, but seems to have misunderstood the goal. Thus, Justin has written a follow-up article here.
This article was not written to teach people how to pirate or ridicule Google's Android License Verification Library (LVL) that handles communication with Google's Android Market Licensing Service.
I am very much against piracy, and very much pro-Google.