Guilty Pleas in First Prosecution of Mobile App Piracy

Guilty Pleas in First Prosecution of Mobile App Piracy

It's hard enough for an app developer to make a living. You have to conceive of an app idea, check out competitors, build the app, market it, support it, and hope that it gets noticed. But to have done that and then have your app pirated is a real blow. It's happened to me, many times. Apple makes it relatively hard or undesirable to jailbreak your device to be able to run pirated apps, compared to how easy it is on Android. Perhaps that's why most mobile developers target iOS first or only.

Case in point, a pair of websites dedicated to enabling the piracy of Android apps allegedly distributed $17 million worth of apps, without a penny going to the developers. Now it can be argued that those pirates might never have paid for those apps in the first place, but it's still a crime. There are a whole host of reasons why piracy is bad. In the case of my apps, where each user puts an additional load on my server, having thousands of non-paying users would be undesirable to say the least. Plus the pirated versions might be older, without bug fixes, which might give potential paying customers a bad impression. 

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Fortunately, this case has a good outcome. The culprits have plead guilty to the charges, namely conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, although it took a while. Sentencing for these pirates will be August 1, 2016, four years after the websites in questions, Applanet and SnappzMarket, were seized by the Feds. 

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Todd Bernhard's picture

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.