We've seen it happen with movie and music sites in the past but the The Department of Justice has now set their eyes on some newer forms of piracy out there. Android apps. With the help of Dutch and French law enforcement, the FBI has now seized three popular Android app sharing sites (Appbucket, Snappzmarket and Applanet) that offered illegal downloads.  As noted in their press release, they will continue to seize such sites as part of their cracking down on the piracy of copyrighted works :

“Cracking down on piracy of copyrighted works – including popular apps – is a top priority of the Criminal Division,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Software apps have become an increasingly essential part of our nation’s economy and creative culture, and the Criminal Division is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect the creators of these apps and other forms of intellectual property from those who seek to steal it.”

“Criminal copyright laws apply to apps for cell phones and tablets, just as they do to other software, music and writings. These laws protect and encourage the hard work and ingenuity of software developers entering this growing and important part of our economy. We will continue to seize and shut down websites that market pirated apps, and to pursue those responsible for criminal charges if appropriate,” said U.S. Attorney Yates.

I won't go into a rant about piracy on Android but it's there and people know it. Now, with The Department of Justice stepping in and closing some of the more prominent sites down hopefully this will convince others to start paying for the apps they really want. Besides, there is other reasons to not pirate apps aside from the money you'll be spending.

Source: DOJ; via: BGR


Reader comments

FBI shutting down pirated Android app sites, will continue to do so


It is never a good thing when our government takes property (that could be from people that are not even our citizens) without due process.

I agree 100%. Without due process our government ceases to be a democratic republic and instead acts more like a fascist state.

Well...seizing the hardware is part of the due process. But I don't see how they'll be able to take property of non-US based sites, unless if they work in conjunction with local authorities. In which case THEY would be doing the seizing. But, if they're hosting pirated content, they brought it upon themselves.

I think this is good. They need to go after these websites that offer pirated applications. I like that they are cracking down.

Some thoughts on this from reddit:

"The FBI and DoJ abusing their powers and seizing domain names without fair trial is not something to be celebrated.

And there are a million of these sites. This changes nothing."

"this is not good news even if it works on your favor"

"I'm an app developer and stuff like this doesn't make me feel better at all..."

So, they're supposed to go ahead with the trial without seizing any evidence? That would be like catching a bank robber, but letting him keep the money until the trial is over. Doesn't make any sense.

The wack-a-mole game continues, i guess. One shuts down, 3 more open up.

Doing a simple search for android warez/appz sites shows plenty more to choose from.

Exactly..and why I chose not to rant about it in the write up. It's an endless battle though, the means of stopping it are just as questionable as those who are starting up the sites that promote it really.

Yeah this will fix the problem...yeah right. Megaupload went down and 10 more sites were created soon after to pick up the slack. Piracy cannot be stopped no matter how much they step in. If it was this easy then it wouldn't exist at all. You are absolutely correct that they are abusing their power. Much more important things they could be doing.

You are right, piracy cannot be stopped. Crime period cannot be stopped. There will always be theft, murder, arson, embezzlement, fraud... but that doesn't mean we should shop prosecuting offenders.

This is the problem. No one was prosecuted. Our government seized these domain names without any trial whatsoever. Not to mention these domain may have belonged to people that do not even live in the US. Any way you slice it, this is not the way it should be done.

There's plenty of piracy over there too. Every time a story comes out about android that could be cast in a negative light there's always some idiot out there who says something like this. iOS is not the utopia they want you to believe it is.

just because new sites come up to replace the seized sites doesn't mean they should be left alone.
Just because you can't beat crime doesn't mean you should leave it alone.
Way to go DOJ! I hope the owners of the sites are prosecuted to the fullest extent.

Nothing will happen to the owners. The only thing that has been done is that the DOJ illegally seized three domain names. The servers for these sites still exist (on foreign servers) and all they need to do is purchase a new domain that is not controlled by the US, like .co, .me, or .se.

Hey, this is great! Remember when the Feds stopped piracy all together when they arrested Dotcom and took down MegaUpload? Ohh wait...

how about this...........EVERY app should come with a 7 day trial. This way, if the app sucks, which is probably 90% of them(my opinion of course), then your not obligated to purchase it. But to purchase an app that turns out to be a pile of crap, and then can't get your hard earned cash back, that stinks! but in my own opinion, i think there are too many other important things the the DoJ should be doing at the moment. Like arresting Eric Holder. too much money is being invested in a war they can never win. OUR MONEY.

A seven day trial!? Are you crazy? Be glad you have 15 minutes! The point of the 15 minute should NOT be about "quality of purchase", but rather "intent of purchase". If you are weary about a purchase on the Play Store market, then research the application with reading user reviews, and searching online for any possible articles from respectable sites. If you want to make a point to the developers regarding their applications, do so with the not purchasing crap software.

Reading reviews really isn't much of an answer. I have read numerous reviews for apps that are over $1.99 (under that I'll take a chance) and even some that have wonderful reviews just weren't right for me. I am completely opposed to app piracy, but I will admit I have downloaded pirated versions of a few apps that have no free trial version and that are complicated enough that I know 15 minutes is not enough time to get through the setup. If I like the app I purchase it; if not I uninstall it and look for something that better meets my needs.

It does need a longer trial period, 15 min is ridiculous! Mostly You have no time to see if it's bugy on your phone. I would say a day or 2 just to get real time to experience with the app. Would you accept it if retailers said you should read the reviews before you buy because you only have 15 min to returncause after that your SOL.

It's not about stopping piracy it's about keeping it down to a manageable level and letting people know the risk. It's obvious you can't arrest/stop everyone. It's kind of like speeding, out of every thousand speeders they will prob ticket 1, not stopping it at, just letting you know you can get caught... I think they need to do a massive world-wide sting, just to make the news and put a little fear out there..

I don't exactly agree with the way the DOJ and FBI are going about this, but I do agree that something needs to be done, on both the Android and iOS sides, hell with all software for that matter. Maybe in the future there will be a way for all apps and programs to detect if you have a valid copy of software, or if you obtained such apps and software from legitimate sources, so that the developers get rightful compensation. I used to download all of my old windows programs from pirated websites; I even used to find workarounds on legitimate sites to obtain free programs, and I still download movies on occasion. Even though I still download movies, I actualy pay for all of my apps and programs now, especially after reading how most developers get downright discouraged when they find people bragging about their hard-earned work and their pockets have nothing to show for it. But, I can attest to the fact that if it's there, more than likely people will attempt to get it for free, even when they know they should pay. I wish there were better ways to accomplish eliminating piracy, without having to worry about wacky internet bills or look over your shoulder for Big Brother.

Can't believe piracy is so big for Android. People are that friggin cheap that they can't pay for their apps. If i go and look at my history I've maybe spent $175 in total on apps over the entire life of android on many different devices. That is such a drop in the bucket if you compare the costs of music and movies. IT's a joke that people will still choose free and illegal even if it doesn't hurt their wallet that bad. It's really a sign of poor character and all you piraters can talk about "freedom" or "sharing" all you want but you need to look in the mirror and stop finding away to rationalize theft...

There's some countries where you can't even get paid apps on the Play Store. Pretty sure UAE is one of them, hence why Carbon for Android is going to be released as a free app instead of paid.

Didn't even know that there were pirate android sites. Thanx Mr FBI for telling us all so we can go and find them..

Guess what ... there's pron on the internet too. Just go to a website called and do a search for bewbs.

(sorry, couldn't resist)

One thing I wonder about is how those pirate sites used to support themselves financially. There's something fishy about the whole idea of pirate Android stores. I sure hope few people are so stupid as to risk their personal data and their phone just to save a couple of bucks...

Ads, affiliate links etc. I have used sites before to get apps that "aren't compatible" for my device. Was it about the money? No, it was because the developer wouldn't update the app to say it worked for that particular phone, when in reality it did.

I suppose that for the devs that aren't able to make money because their apps are pirated, this is a good thing. I wonder what percentage of potential sales are lost due to pirated android apps. Are devs losing thousands of dollars? Tens of thousands, or just a few hundred bucks or less. Also, are the majority of the pirated apps on these sites iOS or android, and how many of them sell for more than $0.99. Just curious what the stats are.

Personally, I have never pirated an app. A movie, yes, an app, no. I do install tons of apks that may not be available in the market for a particular device such as car home, or flash player (since the Nexus 7 doesn't have it), but those are free apps so there is no money lost for any dev.

This is a good thing, and regardless of whether 10 new sites pop up, they still need to be shut down. Even if it's a battle they will never win, it keeps the mainstream away from it. Every time a site is shut down, and another pops up, it takes time for the word to spread about the new ones. Point is, if you don't pay for the apps, then we'll never get apps that are better/improved/etc. This also speaks to the bigger problem of not being able to return an app. Sorry, but 15 minutes is not enough time to judge an app. 24 hour trial period to return it was much better. An take a look at iOS. Higher piracy rates and hey look.....NO returns period. Paying $0.99 for an app that ends up as crap is one thing. Doing it repeatedly with no recourse will start to drive people to piracy.

I agree that Pirate sites need to be monitored and stopped but, it's a losing battle. As long as there is a demand someone will find a way to supply it.

There are some additional angles of the Android piracy:

1. Apps (mostly games) that are listed as incompatible with the device DESPITE the fact that they are working perfect when you download a pirated .apk.

2. Apps that for different reasons doesn't show up in Play Store for specific countries.

3. Apps that are not games but suffers from the problem in 1.

It is necessary to solve those problems and one step is a longer trial period or even that games are distributed according to the old shareware model: you got the first level for free, then you can buy the full game if you like it. This is what made a classic game like Doom big.

The compatibility problem can be solved by a system where the users can install the app and flag it as compatible with their device if it works. In order to avoid bad reviews, they are disabled for those apps and are only enabled when the amount of compatibility reports for a device hit a specific number (the app is then confirmed as compatible and the disclaimer disappears from Play).

With other words: there are imperfections at the Play store that makes piracy viable in certain circumstances and those problems has to be solved.

Well there goes the sell of alot of apps. Who would buy an app and hurry up before 15 min expire and test the app out. This just gives our government officials something to do. This does not benefit anyone.

Especially since there are 100 different android devices and the app probably does 80% of what its suppose to do only for about 3 devices. The rest of the devices the app doesn't work at all.

First: to everyone posting this won't do anything, piracy will still go on, etc etc...go ahead and keep sticking your head in the sand. The moment authorities decide to just let crime go on because someone else will take their place, is the time society as a whole goes COMPLETELY to the dogs, and murder and rape are commonplace and happen on every street corner.

Second: To the idiot saying they're breaking the law by seizing property...really? And the people running the site aren't breaking the law by hosting pirated content? The only difference is, the FBI hasn't actually broken laws. They're ALLOWED to seize property of suspected criminals, in order to determine if and how any laws were broken. And they're not doing it on their own, "With the help of Dutch and French law enforcement". So stop it with the whole "It is never a good thing when our government takes property (that could be from people that are not even our citizens)", and try reading the entire story.

Third: Well, Google needs to fix their shit, definitely. By not allowing paid purchases in some countries, they're basically inviting piracy.

I'm glad their doing this but in the end pirating will continue. Thats why every chance I get I pay for an app and support the developer. Good thing about android is that apps are usually pretty cheap in price and they have sales once in a while. If you use an app all the time I say buy the premium version and help keep it updated.

I'm glad their doing this but in the end pirating will continue. Thats why every chance I get I pay for an app and support the developer. Good thing about android is that apps are usually pretty cheap in price and they have sales once in a while. If you use an app all the time I say buy the premium version and help keep it updated.