The openness of the Android platform has many advantages, but it also makes the platform more of a gamble for developers. Apple’s iOS is still the leading platform for many app releases (especially games) and apps can often sell on iOS while their Android versions are free. The reason for this is the expectations that Android users have, as well as the ease with which Android apps can be pirated using alternative app stores that operate in the open. Now, however, app pirates will have to be more careful or face legal consequences.
The U.S. Department of Justice has charged four people in connection with running alternative pirate Android app stores. All four defendants in the case have been charged with conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. They could each face up to five years in prison if found guilty.
One of the defendants is accused of involvement in the SnappzMarket app store, which the Justice Department believes distributed over one million pirated Android apps. The other three defendants have been charged for their involvement in the Appbucket app store, which authorities also believe distributed over one million pirated apps.
All of the defendants are accused of renting server space for their respective app stores. Both of the stores were seized by U.S. authorities in August 2012.
“These crimes involve the large-scale violation of intellectual property rights in a relatively new and rapidly growing market,” said Mythili Raman, acting U.S. assistant attorney general. “While this represents the first counterfeit apps case by the Department of Justice, it exemplifies our longstanding commitment to prosecute those who steal the creative works of others.”
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