App Pirates Guilty of Copyright Infringement

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Back in January the U.S. charged four people in connection with pirate app stores developed for Android devices. Now all four of these defendants has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. The cases represent the U.S. Justice Department's first cases against alleged mobile app pirates, and now appear to have been a success.

Thomas Pace of Oregon City Oregon is the latest of the pirates to plead guilty to copyright the charges. The 38-year-old Pace was a member of the Appbucket Group, the developers of the Appbucket market for Android. Through their market app the Appbucket Group distributed more than one million copyrighted Android apps without permission from the apps' creators from 2010 to 2012. The retail value of those apps was estimated by the U.S. Justice Department to total over $700,000.

Pace's sentencing is scheduled for July 9. He faces up to five years in prison.

Two other members of the Appbucket Group, Thomas Dye and Nicholas Narbone, both pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy charge back in March.

A fourth pirate, Kody Jon Peterson of Clermont, Florida, pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy charge on Monday. The 22-year-old Peterson was a member of the SnappzMarket Group, an organization similar to the Appbucket Group. SnappzMarket operated an alternative Android app market from 2011 to 2012, offering over one million copyrighted Android apps. The SnappzMarket is estimated to have distributed over $1.7 million worth of Android software. The SnappzMarket app was shut down by the U.S. government in late 2013 following an FBI investigation into the group.

Peterson's sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

“These crimes involve the large-scale violation of intellectual property rights in a relatively new and rapidly growing market,” said Mythili Raman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. “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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