Back in 2012, the FBI, Department of Justice, and other domestic and foreign entities teamed up to seize three sites that pirated Android apps: Applanet, AppBucket, and SnappzMarket. The fallout for some of the operators of those sites was known within about 18 months of the unprecedented crackdown. For the then-teenager behind Applanet, the largest of the three offending sites, the consequences were not determined until this week: He'll avoid prison time but will be placed under probation with some special conditions.
Artem gives me all the weird stuff. I love it, really. In the last week or so alone, I've covered Shaq fighting mutant zombies, Santa Claus as a rock star, sentient pudding, and a walk in the park. I thought I couldn't be happier. Then he brings me 'Sacred Guns'. This game stars Archangel Mark Leung (which appears to be the same name of one of the primary devs on this project), wielding his dual golden pistols and rainbow sword against an army of "God's unwanted creation." Apparently, when the Lord Almighty wanted to flood the Earth to cleanse it of sin, "sin" was code for "evil Teletubbies." Which makes perfect sense.
Playmobil, famous for miniature people and toy sets covering themes from knights to doll house life to Native Americans, has partnered with Gameloft to bring their Playmobil Pirates game to the Play Store. While Pirates is significantly different from its Nintendo DS namesake, the game features the same animated Playmobil pirates and environments you'd expect, plenty of missions, and social integration.
Starting out, players will need to build a "pirate camp," or home base for a team of pirates you'll assemble to help in your ultimate quest to defeat Blackbeard. Before getting to the infamous pirate boss, however, players will need to complete one hundred levels of swashbuckling, firing cannons, and steering pirate ships, along with plenty of mini games, all while defending their pirate camp.
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. 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.
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.
Pretty soon, sites like the Pirate Bay won't be the #1 search result anymore.
The net effect of this change will likely be very minimal to the more hardcore pirates.
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?
Zombies Vs. Knights
Dead Trigger provides an interesting starting point. The developer, Madfinger, notes that its previous game Shadowgun experienced a rather high level of piracy when priced at $8.
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.
An application, masking itself as a non-existent version of the paid app called Walk and Text, was uploaded to multiple pirate Android app markets across North America and Asia.
Researchers from Intel, Penn State, and Duke teamed up to study just how secure the apps in the Android market are. Specifically, they wanted to see what private data was collected by apps, and what the apps then did with said data. The results: 15 out of 30 "popular" applications sent geographic data, 7 sent unique hardware information, and a few sent info such as phone number and SIM serial to developers. Scary stuff indeed.
This isn't the first time we've heard that Android apps are insecure - in late July, Lookout released similar findings. However, Taintdroid takes things a bit further - albeit, from a smaller sample.
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. He has customers from countries such as Nigeria, Kuwait, and the Ukraine who have found ways of purchasing apps through the Android Market, without the full market officially being available there.