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Android Market Ready to Crack Down on Piracy

The latest announcement from the Android team should bring a giant smile to the faces of application developers.  It’s time to finally start cracking down on Android application piracy.  A new licensing service has been provided to devs and should roll out to the market within the next few months…

This simple and free service provides a secure mechanism to manage access to all Android Market paid applications targeting Android 1.5 or higher. At run time, with the inclusion of a set of libraries provided by us, your application can query the Android Market licensing server to determine the license status of your users. It returns information on whether your users are authorized to use the app based on stored sales records.

If you need a translation on that, it’s really just saying that market servers can ping the apps on your device from time to time to make sure it is actually licensed to/paid for by you.  And no, you don’t have to worry about security, battery life, or “the man” watching over your shoulder with this new service.  This is a good thing people.

And time for a quick rant…

If you’ve been in the Android game for a while, you are likely familiar with the abundance of “blackmarket” Android app sites which only ask you to pay a small fee to join in order to get unlimited access to paid apps.  It’s sad, pathetic and obviously illegal, but part of life in general I guess.  The thing that really irritates me is the fact that developers put so much time and energy into work which supports an operating system we all hope will continue to grow past everyone, yet we still have community members willing to undermine them.  Devs need to get paid if this way of life is ever going to progress to the top.  (Damn that sounded preachy!)

Source:  Android Developers Blog
Via:  TechCrunch

Cheers Jason!

  • Herman

    So if I don't have internet at the time, does that mean I can't use my payed app's?
    I think your reasoning, its protecting the developers ergo it is good, is a bit overly simplistic. After all, the same can be said about DRM. And I think you know what the concensus on that piece of computer raping software is.
    But we'll see…

  • Luvjones305

    im pretty sure these developers bought boot leg cds before so it part of life every body got to eat

  • Luvjones305

    im pretty sure these developers bought boot leg cds before so it part of life every body got to eat

  • Most importantly, these apps are like a DOLLAR. I've gone app crazy since I got my phone, and 26% of my apps are paid.

    How much have I spent? $28.93

    (Thanks app-brain for the handy info)

  • Chris Nimon

    im paying out the arse for unlimited data. I can use my phone to download stuff all day but some people think that by using the same phone connected to a computer is stealing? In what way? It's the exact same thing/usage, just through a computer. If there was anyone who could claim foul i would think it would be the computer maker. Just my $.02

  • Chris Nimon

    I'm too lazy to look for pirated apps, i just pay the buck or 2 and enjoy.

  • DroidieAng

    I am glad for this. I have developed a few apps that I have not released because of how easy it is for the pirates. I mostly made the apps for myself to learn and over time they expanded to a few cool things. I could release it for free but with the amount of time I put into them I feel I should get something back. Or I could even go the ad way but I would hardly every use a an app with ads and I would not expect users of my apps to deal with ads. I wish Google would remove the ads in Maps. We pay for the phone and should not see any ads unless we choose too. I would rather pay for the ad free version. Anyways, to the ones bitchin about this I bet you never wrote a few lines of code or spent months on developing something. Spend a few bucks on your favorite apps and don't expect everythig in life to be free. The people making things you like do not get their basic essentials to sustain their life for free.

  • my buddy went me an APK for launhcer pro plus, does this mean i can't use it??

  • Dhinged

    It seems like the perfect solution to piracy would be to add a license key to each downloaded app that matches that app with that user. That way the user can backup and transfer the app to a replacement phone (or wiped phone), and Google can ensure the app only belongs to one user. It should probably run the way Apple does it, in that you can download the app as many times as you want, but you can only use it on the phone registered to you.

  • RCS476

    Wow, a lot of people here with strong opinions on the piracy of apps. In that case, I assume none of you illegally download music, movies or run pirated versions of software, because it's the same exact thing.

    Do not argue this post unless you have NEVER downloaded anything illegally.

  • Turner

    I have paid for every app I have. Rooted months ago running Froyo. My sister has worked for VZ for years. My a hole brother in law, her husband, asked me how it felt to be putting my sister out of a job by stealing tethering. I have never, and don't need to tether. I have fast internet @ home and that's work too. Anything else i need, my Droid Does. Thanks again Kellex, was never comfortable/informed enough to root till I found DL

  • Sumthang2thinkabout :D

    We (most) “Droid Owners” have root and are able to uninstall preload apps. People can say screw it and uninstall the Market app. That way it wont 'ping' the market place, correct? So basically it doesnt do much to prevent someone who really really really want to download pay apps apk and installing it. Yes they wouldnt get 'update' but that can be downloaded also. Even if they decided to re-install the Market app and download some free app, they can either uninstall the 'illegal' app so it wouldnt ping then reinstall it after they are done with the market. So all this does really is make a bit of a hassle to download apk. Or is my thinking off on this?

    • justsayin'

      I have no clue on whether that would work or not, but you kind of summed things up in your second to last sentence. It makes things a pain in the butt for the common user (i.e. DRM single device madness) but the people hell bent on getting the app for free will do so regardless.

  • Justin

    Why didn't anyone tell me about the “free paid apps”?

    I love this “selective care” thread.

    • Droidzilla

      I'm going to start a website that does paid free apps.

      Google Maps- $1.99
      Google Earth- $2.99
      Google Voice- $5.99
      Google Bundle (includes Maps, Earth, Voice, and free Goggles!)- $9.99

      Act fast! Buy now!

  • Jhmbmd78

    Don't we think this is just a little bit hypocritical, seeing as this very community (drodi-life) has promoted apps for rooted phones to steal broadband connection form the wireless companies? Or is it only ok to steal form corporations and not the little guys? Not like the corporations employ tens of thousands of little guys or anything. What about the developers who develop apps which run video game .roms? Don't give me that it's legal if you own it nonsense, we know the library of congress just lightened the DRM rules, but not nearly that much.

    If we're (Android community) going to take a stance, we can't do it half way.

    • justsayin'

      That was exactly my point. Everyone can justify to themselves why they do what they do. While I don't have an unpaid for app, I can't say I don't own any “unpaid for” digital intellectual property. I highly doubt anyone (ok, very very slim margin of folks) on here can when they stop and think about what is exactly on their storage devices.

      Piracy has forever existed and always will in one shape or form. My great uncle, an old cowboy, once said to me when I asked him why he never locks anything, “The only thing a lock will do is keep on honest man honest and locks/windows are expensive”.

    • misscarmen

      Agreed honey
      I agree 100%

    • Droidzilla

      I use my wired tether for one thing only: to be able to browse the net with a keyboard and monitor. I use no more bandwidth than I would on my phone; it just saves a little stress on my fingers and eyes. Sorry if I'm not going to pay Verizon $20/month for the privilege of using my monitor and keyboard.

      This is not to say that others aren't using it to download music/videos/etc., just that equating rooting, wired/wireless tether, etc. with piracy may be painting with too broad a brush. That's like saying everyone who checks the box allowing them to install applications from sources other than the market is doing it to steal apps (basically, AT&T's argument). Some are, sure, but that doesn't mean that's the only reason to do it. If I didn't, I wouldn't have my (paid for) Dungeon Hunter game.

      I personally do not recall Droid Life in any way encouraging piracy in any form (you could make an argument for tethering, but an argument can be made against, too; like the one above). If you have any concrete examples of this, I'll gladly add my voice to yours saying that they're inconsistent.

      • justsayin'

        I think we can all agree that VZW is way off-base on charging for tethering. However, if you are doing something that Verizon charges for, on their equipment (your phone notwithstanding) for free it is stealing by definition. I tend to disagree that painting the “piracy label” brush on tethering is not that far fetched. Rooting, who knows? Kind of like the whether ganga should be legal or not debate. This is another point of how everyone can justify their actions to themselves.

        Don't get me wrong, I'm not here to judge anyone. It's hard not actively participate in digital society without stepping on someone's IP rights?

        •  +1

          Rooting just violates your warranty.  Tethering without paying is stealing.

    • EC8CH

      Rooting to wifi tether isn't stealing…
      Charging $20/month to tether ontop of a data plan is.

      •  Actually, you’re incorrect about that.  Your contract is pretty explicit in stating that your phone’s data access without a data plan should stay on that phone.  You signed onto that contract knowing full well.  Violating that is, well, stealing.

        • EC8CH

          I should probably let Verizon sew my lips around the anus of an ansian man as well then…

    • Dhinged

      Tethering isn't stealing if the 3G providers provide unlimited (which isn't really unlimited) data for you already. It shouldn't matter at all what device is using the bandwidth as long as you're paying for the bandwidth. The service providers only want to limit it because they can't actually provide what everybody's paying for: unlimited bandwidth. So who's stealing from who really?

    • CompCrash

      First off, rooting is in no way illegal. (I hate companies that want to say it is) All it does is give the SU a known password, the whole reason of it being blocked is for people who don't know what they are doing so they can't mess up their phone. Linux has a SU just so normal users or programs can't make big changes to the OS without going through the SU.

      Also video game emulators are not illegal either. They are made to run just like the real system. So custom ROMs or open games are fine. However it is illegal to get licensed ROMs from others. If you do have a method of getting them from ones you do own then you can use that.

  • Rosalvo

    I don't mind paying for an app as long as I can try it out first. I think that all developers should have a one or two day trial before paying for an app. There are a lot of crappy apps out there, and I don't want to have to pay $5 for something that is crap.

    • WhereIsTony

      you can get a full refund for 24 hours from downloading a paid app

  • jedijesus95

    Anyone who steals an app should be ashamed of themselves. Most of these apps are $2 or less. And I try to support the devs by spending $20 a month on good android apps.

  • justsayin'

    I think if developers choose to be paid for their intellectual property, we as consumers have a choice to use their product and pay for it or NOT use the product and not pay for it. I do think it's a little funny however that everyone can justify what they do. How many people on here bemoan software piracy, whether they are a developer or consumer, and yet may have one or two MP3 files they didn't pay for themselves. Well….that's different. Right?

  • John

    It's up to the developer to determine what is done when an app is pinged as illegal..

    This is a good thing. Android needs more quality developers so anything to get them to stay/come is positive. This should also crack down on the refund scam where you purchase an app, make a backup, get a refund, and continue to use the app.

  • saimin

    If we want better apps, we have to respect app developers.

  • This write up is misleading. The market doesn't ping apps. Its the apps that would ping the market. Its totally to the developer to implement something like this. It just allows the app to check with the market and verify that the user is licensed to run it (meaning they purchased it or the app is free)

    • I was wondering how they managed to get that backwards myself. It's totally up to the devs to utilize the new libraries and implement the checks, and then they have to decide what to do about it.

  • Also, what is going to happen to those who have paid apps that they didn't pay for, Wil there phone kill them in their sleep?

    • im curious about this too. there are like 3 or 4 apps i didnt pay for and i dont want my phone to die…

    • Justin

      No, it will eventually cause a brain tumor from the radiation.. happy?

  • I'm all for this…a lot of developers actually prefer the i*hone model for reasons exactly like piracy (to say nothing about OS fragmentation) so anything that Android can do to offer app developers a reason to invest their time and energy into releasing quality apps, the better. That being said, I'm a little troubled by the idea of my non-market apps being inventoried and stored somewhere…

  • Wayne W.

    Look at it this way we could be forced to use iTunes and such to obtain our apps…I'm fine with this but am curious on how the program will react when it can't ping back…assuming if it can't ping back it could never receive the inital ping to begin with. Or the request will wait in the background until reception is obtained again.

    The only thing I don't like is that they're leaving it up to the developer to decide how often to the app should phone home. Devs need to be smart and not burden consumers with their paranoia. Honestly only time I feel that it should phone home is when you're requesting an update through the market.

  • Dyancey11

    This isn't a bad idea but I think more apps should have the trial period before you buy them bc alot of them don't, and I hate when I buy an app and it sucks a**!!

    • DroidieAng

      You have 24 hours to get a refund…It might have even change to 48 hours.

  • I totally agree. I dont mind people pirating music or movies-because those are MULTI BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRIES. Did i hurt Warner Brothers when I downloaded a crystal clear copy of “The Dark Knight” Two days after it was released (after seeing it in the theaters twice)? Nope, not at all. Will Roadrunner Records feel the burn from my downloading Korn's new album? Probably not.

    However, there are two industries I don't agree with it. Android Apps (not sure if you can really CALL it an industry), and the comic book industry.

    • AnAndroidDeveloper

      Stealing is stealing regardless if you feel the “industry” is hurt by it or not. Stop being a cheap sh!t and pony up the lousy $10 for your music and videos. Given your admitted history, thank goodness Google is enabling this feature. Clearly people can't be trusted with the honor system anymore and that is a shame because that is what makes DRM systems possible.

      • Justin

        I agree.
        Walmart is a HUGE corporation.
        So by his reasoning, its ok to go in and loot the place?

      • yeah im pretty sure Warner Brothers got my money out of me, since I paid for 3 tickets to the midnight screening, 3 tickets for an Imax screening, a copy of the DVD, and a copy of the Blu Ray. Maybe if the Movie / Music industry would start putting out stuff worth buying, more people would be buying it and not pirating?

        back to the subject at hand. I don't pirate applications or software. At all. Have I purchased and returned apps from the Market? Once or twice-because they sucked. I've probably spent a solid amount of money on applications.

    • slipstream20v

      You're right, they won't feel a thing if you steal their product. But what about if 10 others do it? 100? 1,000? 10,000? 100,000? $10/album stolen by 100,000 people online is $1M in lost revenue. On ONE album.

      It's the same idea as pollution; one person isn't going to damage the environment, but 500 million all doing the same thing will.

  • This is bad news for those who paid into those stupid clubs. The good news is this will bring more developers to android to make better apps and make money.

  • I never scab apps.
    I gladly support those i feel worthy. Other wise, i go “lite”. Lol
    people using those services r thiefs, of the lamest/worst kind.


  • bravoleader2

    Agreed Kellex

  • nkhex19

    +1 for your rant Kellex, I totally agree.

    • Ditto. Only scumbag dipsticks steal apps. It's like a grown man stealing a newspaper or a candy bar. Grow a pair and do what is right. It's only common sense.

      • chaozu

        You're an idiot and have no idea what you're talking about. A grown man stealing a newspaper? People using the “unlimited paid apps” sites still had to pay for the subscription, so its NOT stealing! It may at a very low price and not what the Devs want, but they knew it would happen so I dont feel bad. Dont even try to tell me you've never downloaded pirated music, because everyone on this site is guilty of that. But when it comes to our beloved little droid, it becomes a sin! Go blow a goat you homo!

        • Justin

          You make a good point, but please do it more tactfully.

      • Droidzilla

        I was trying to reply to Chaozu, but he got teh modded 😛 Here's my counter-rant for him, anyway:

        The only problem with that logic is that the “unlimited paid apps” sites stole the app, and are now selling a stolen product. It would be like buying LCD TVs from a guy who said, “they fell off a truck.” Just because you're paying for it doesn't mean you're not a party to theft.

        Also, you fall victim to the “ad populum” logical fallacy. It means, “appeal to population 9or the people),” and is characterised by saying something is right or true due to an overwhelming amount of people practising it. Just because most people have downloaded a song they don't own here or there doesn't make it not theft.

        Bottom line: theft is theft. Period. Society is OK with a lot of types of theft (like downloading music/videos and not paying for them, or paying for a service to get unlimited paid apps from someone who stole them), but that has nothing to do with whether or not those things are, in fact, thievery.

      • Alt + F4

        Ok Fulgham, it is my opinion that only a small portion of the people who pirate apps do it to rip off the dev. I easily pay $1-5 for breakfast at McDonald’s without a second thought. I think that people who pirate apps either, one, want a demo of sorts because one is not offered, or two, do not have digital currency. I just turned 18 so I went out and bought the only app I have ever wanted to buy, Minebuilder, with my shiny new debit card. But methods of purchase for minors are limited which, I believe, is what leads to the piracy.

        I will never condone piracy, but I do not think the answer to fixing the problem lies in better market security. I think Google, in all their infinite wisdom, should come up with some way of allowing minors to turn that $20 from mowing the neighbor’s lawn into android apps. The only methods checkout I have found are; ask mom or get a pre-paid Visa which is a waste of a $5 activation fee just to buy a $0.99 android app.

  • MR.E

    So if ur in a low/no service area, some apps won't run? If that's the case, I would not buy those apps, so doesn't help the devs if i CAN'T use the app I paid for… no reason to buy from them again..

    • HalfMoon

      I'm thinking this is more of a when it can phone home, it does. When it sees that it's not a valid purchase the app is flagged for removal, or to be disabled.

      Hopefully it's implemented so each app only get validate when a new version is installed and once it's done it's done so it's not going to be pinging every 2 hours for apps that have already passed the test.

    • briderx

      How do you buy an app if you don't have cell service? How do you own a cell without cell service. Like HalfMoon predicted, it would probably only check when you do updates and such (hence, cellular service).. I know these apps would not sit in the background checking for service, as you have 30+ apps trying to ping..

      Hope that didn't sound “blasty”.. I was trying to piggyback off halfmoon & answer your question at the same time.

      • llCoolDay

        I would see it as a problem for people traveling, Plane mode, low signal area, etc… I'm all for helping developers get paid for their work, but hopefully they can implement it without being a hassle to consumers. ping on updates, or first time used?

  • launcer pro plus is not via the android market…will this app be affected?

    • He released a key for it. It is via the market now 🙂 lol

      • figured it out…there was update available for launcher pro on the market. the updated version has an “unlock launcher pro plus” option….enter the email and code and voila!

    • cdick133

      Tim-o-tato is right on that point, but on the broader spectrum, this will only be for apps that implement this service, so if a developer wanted to allow their program to be installed externally from the market they could easily do so by not including the service.

  • RJM

    Well said Kellex. There may be many reasons to support developers and not hijack apps, ut there is a simple bottom line that supersedes the Android world – it is NOT alright to steal.

  • EdCenter

    I'm a working professional, and I don't mind paying for mobile phone apps simply because a vast majority of the apps I buy were made by Programmer Joe who wanted to fill a need and get compensated for it. So good on Google for doing this. I'd hate to see the Droid app market dry up (and leave for Apple) due to rampant piracy.

  • HalfMoon

    Hey, I have this $600 phone, but I can't afford to pay $1, $2, $3, or even $10 for your app that I REALLY NEED TO HAVE!


    I don't get it. Did mom and dad buy them the phone and not let them buy any apps?

    • those are the same people who buy expensive cars and complain that they have to use premium unleaded…and use regular instead

    • in some cases yes, since you need a credit card to purchase apps.

      • HalfMoon

        I can't wait to see how many kids get their phones downgraded when Verizon and the Market let you charge your apps to your bill and bypass goog checkout. 🙂

        • Omega_2

          Fun for the whole family! >:}

  • Yea this is pretty crazy! I mean it's good they're cracking down on piracy… but idk, just something about apps pinging back concerns me… as far as battery life goes, or as the techcrunch article points out, if you are in a low reception area, is it going to lock up or what?

    • kellex

      I really hope they have something like this figured out already. If not, yikes!

      • Mrpicolas

        Its already in place all the extra security stuff is server sideand has been in use what they are doing is validating that stuff with new checks on their side

  • amen!

  • slackerjoe


  • spyder00

    What will they (developers) do if they ping someone with an unpaid app?

    • Michael_NM

      Activate the eFuse. 😛

      • KaZx

        I'm envisioning a giant Nag screen with a big ePenis on it telling you excatly how the developer feels about you

      • El El Kool J

        thats funny stuff michael… 🙂

      • spyder00

        haha they totally would