A First: US Dept. of Justice Convicts Two for Mobile App Piracy

A First: US Dept. of Justice Convicts Two for Mobile App Piracy

Google Android DOJ Logo 310x

Two men convicted of pirating over one million Android apps over two years.

For the first time ever, the Department of Justice has landed a conviction tied to mobile app piracy.

Two men pleaded guilty to one count each of "conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement." Nicholas Anthony Narbone of Orlando, FL, and Thomas Allen Dye of Jacksonville, FL, were the operators of Appbucket, a popular Android app piracy website. Over the course of two years from 2010 to 2012, the men pirated over one million copies of Android apps while pocketing $700,000 for their troubles.

The maximum prison time attached to the charges is five years in prison. Others were charged stemming from the same investigation, but names were not released.

"The wholesale theft of intellectual property as seen in this case cannot and will not go unaddressed," said J. Britt Johnson, the Atlanta-based FBI Special Agent in Charge of the investigation. "The FBI will continue to work with its various law enforcement partners in identifying, investigating and presenting for prosecution those individuals and groups engaged in such criminal activities that involve the attempt to profit from the hard work and the developed creative ideas of others."

Mobile app piracy does not garner the same kind of attention that movie and music piracy does, nor has it been treated with the same gravity in the justice system, until now. Hopefully these convictions help to close a gap that's been open for far too long.

Permalink

Now if only the can jail the 99,000+ Flappy Bird copiers that are out there, maybe, just maybe mobile gaming wouldn't suck so bad....

"The wholesale theft of intellectual property as seen in this case cannot and will not go unaddressed," said J. Britt Johnson

I'm sure many imaginary folks will sleep well knowing their stolen property has now been returned to them. (At least a million of them, in fact.)

how did they make money out of piracy? Or does the article mean that they pirated 700k worth of apps?

I don't understand...how did they make money off the apps? If they were charging money for them, why would people use this knock-off service rather than a legitimate service? Or did that all come from ad revenue? If so, who are these companies advertising on a pirated app service? In some ways this whole mobile app marketplace still baffles me.

sid:
how did they make money out of piracy? Or does the article mean that they pirated 700k worth of apps?

As far as I understood it they operated a site distributing the pirated apps and got their money from there.

Fear not, good people of the internet! Operation: Extreme Redundancy is well at hand!

(This is not how you make piracy go away. When will they learn?)

Are you guys seriously supporting the people who made 700,000 dollars illegally because you have hangups about the way copyright law is handled?

weirdguy:
Are you guys seriously supporting the people who made 700,000 dollars illegally because you have hangups about the way copyright law is handled?

If it was done through ads, I don't see any problem with it. It's not like the software companies offer a competing service that is also run by ads. Basically, these guys pulled money out of thin air that no one else had dibs on.

Now the piracy of the apps is another matter... But there is no need to go into that now, right before my bed time.

Signa:

weirdguy:
Are you guys seriously supporting the people who made 700,000 dollars illegally because you have hangups about the way copyright law is handled?

If it was done through ads, I don't see any problem with it. It's not like the software companies offer a competing service that is also run by ads. Basically, these guys pulled money out of thin air that no one else had dibs on.

Now the piracy of the apps is another matter... But there is no need to go into that now, right before my bed time.

this is the kind of reasoning that a lot of websites use when they steal other people's content and then post it for ad revenue without the creators' permission, regardless of whether or not the original source was using it for ad revenue

it is very flimsy justification

Devin Connors:

"The wholesale theft of intellectual property as seen in this case cannot and will not go unaddressed," said J. Britt Johnson, the Atlanta-based FBI Special Agent in Charge of the investigation.

wait, so now even agents in charge of investigation does not even know the law? Copyright infringement is not theft according to the law. Maybe they should educate themselves before suing for piracy? Then again, maybe im expecting too much thinking police officers are suppsoed to know the law they are meant to enforce.

Devin Connors:

Mobile app piracy does not garner the same kind of attention that movie and music piracy does, nor has it been treated with the same gravity in the justice system, until now. Hopefully these convictions help to close a gap that's been open for far too long.

exept that, you know, noone was EVER jailed for pirating a song or a movie. Its not closing the gap. its setting precedent. a bad one.

weirdguy:
Are you guys seriously supporting the people who made 700,000 dollars illegally because you have hangups about the way copyright law is handled?

no, we jut dont like when people who can arrest and put us in jail does not even know (or intentionally twist) the law.

As a game developer: serves them right. Making money of other peoples intelectual goods is a severe crime. You don't "steal" the game, but you lower its value, by rasing the supply and lowering the demand.

But: I don't mind the occasional case of piracy. Most people wouldn't have played my games one way or another. So at least they are playing the game and that makes me happy. I fear that this could lead to bullshit like suing someone over several thousand dollar for downloading 15 songs. I don't want that, that is not what those copyright and piracy laws should be for.
The case presented above, on the other hand, IS exactly the kind of scenario, where you want to punish a greedy douche canoe for monetizing other peoples' stuff. There needs to be some kind of differentiation between "piracy" and "large scale distribution of illegal software for the purpose of profit". There is something called "petty larceny of food" (I hope my dictionary software got that right), which is not punishable, although it is technically theft.
Why not have something like that for other laws as well? Common sense and stuff :D

Strazdas:

Devin Connors:

"The wholesale theft of intellectual property as seen in this case cannot and will not go unaddressed," said J. Britt Johnson, the Atlanta-based FBI Special Agent in Charge of the investigation.

wait, so now even agents in charge of investigation does not even know the law? Copyright infringement is not theft according to the law. Maybe they should educate themselves before suing for piracy? Then again, maybe im expecting too much thinking police officers are suppsoed to know the law they are meant to enforce.

Devin Connors:

Mobile app piracy does not garner the same kind of attention that movie and music piracy does, nor has it been treated with the same gravity in the justice system, until now. Hopefully these convictions help to close a gap that's been open for far too long.

exept that, you know, noone was EVER jailed for pirating a song or a movie. Its not closing the gap. its setting precedent. a bad one.

weirdguy:
Are you guys seriously supporting the people who made 700,000 dollars illegally because you have hangups about the way copyright law is handled?

no, we jut dont like when people who can arrest and put us in jail does not even know (or intentionally twist) the law.

They were intentionally profitting from copyright-protected material.
Nobody cares if you download an app for free. However, if you're distributing these apps in masse and taking a profit from it, then of course you deserve what's coming for you.
Copyright law is still the law, no matter what ideology may say about physical "theft" or not. (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/506)

It's not the conviction I care about; it's the sentencing. I am constantly confused by the United States' priorities. They were sentenced to five years in jail... which is the same amount of time people, on average, serve for a rape charge.

Drugs charges are also as bad, if not worse, than Grievous Bodily Harm; no, wait, because pushing an old lady down the stairs won't stop you getting a job or benefits later in life.

I mean, do the media lobbies have such a grip on the U.S. senate that these kind of laws are seen as proportionate and fair when they are made?

So did they host the files themselves or not ? If they did then they are A)Legendarily stupid B) Infringing copyright.

I've got to join the head scratching here. How does this work?

I mean, you can pirate an app onto your phone without paying, I'd assume. Thats what I'd think.

They were somehow selling these apps, or ad space on them? To who? Why wouldn't these customers just get the genuine app (or ads thereon)?

NLS:
They were intentionally profitting from copyright-protected material.
Nobody cares if you download an app for free. However, if you're distributing these apps in masse and taking a profit from it, then of course you deserve what's coming for you.
Copyright law is still the law, no matter what ideology may say about physical "theft" or not. (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/506)

Yes, they were. And what they did was illegal. Its just that copyright infringement is not theft as far as law is concerned. And to have a precedent-setting case here where FBI themselves do not know the law is silly. Im not saying they should not be found guilty, only that they would be found guilty according to the law they are being juged at. And copyright infringement does not go for jail time. The profiteering that could technically go into money laundering probably would, but that wasnt what they were accused to. Then again, its not like they are being consistent, after all they did press correct charges to Dotkom, so its not like FBI doesnt know. it feels more like a witch hunt here than anything. Like that company demanding 22.000 dolalr per song from that grandma because "we need to scare others".

Leon Declis:
I mean, do the media lobbies have such a grip on the U.S. senate that these kind of laws are seen as proportionate and fair when they are made?

If you look at how copyright has evolved in US during the last 100 years you would realize that they had it for a looong time.

The way I'm understanding it, they were distributing paid-for apps for money and not paying the original creators?

Because yeah, that's insanely and wildly illegal.

lacktheknack:
The way I'm understanding it, they were distributing paid-for apps for money and not paying the original creators?

Because yeah, that's insanely and wildly illegal.

If that's actually the case, then why would any consumer actually pay these guys for their trouble? I mean, if they were offering good deals, or flat-out tricking the customers, that's one thing, but it's a hard sell to get people to pay for apps when you can give them away free and then collect ad revenue.

And if that was the case, then I do see why this is such a problem. Those customers are willing to part with their cash for the product, and instead of that cash going to the hard working devs, it's going to some other scum. That is tangible damage to the devs and the industry, and not some nebulous concept of "maybe profits" as losses.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here