Android App Pirates Plead Guilty to Criminal Copyright Infringement

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Two men associated with the "pirate" Android store Appbucket have pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement. The Department of Justice estimates that the site generated over $80,000 in revenue during the two years it was active. The fate of the third Appbucket defendant is still unknown.

appbucketWith help from French and Dutch police, the FBI took over the “pirate” Android stores applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com during the summer of 2012.

The domain seizures were the first ever against “rogue” mobile app marketplaces and followed similar actions against BitTorrent and streaming sites.

Yesterday the Department of Justice announced that two of the three admins of the Appbucket site have plead guilty to criminal copyright infringement. Nicholas Narbone, 26, and Thomas Dye, 21, both signed a plea deal with the Government and are currently scheduled to be sentenced in June.

No information was provided on the third Appbucket defendant, Thomas Pace, who was primarily responsible for finding copies of Android apps and managing the site’s servers.

The authorities estimate that more than a million Apps were traded via Appbucket, with a retail value of approximately $700,000. Over the course of two years the site itself generated little over $80,000 in proceeds from subscriptions.

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Acting Assistant Attorney General David O’Neil is happy with the guilty pleas, which are the first of their kind.

“These mark the first convictions secured by the Justice Department against those who illegally distribute counterfeit mobile apps,” O’Neil says.

“These men trampled on the intellectual property rights of others when they and other members of the Appbucket group distributed more than one million copies of pirated apps.”

Besides Appbucket, there are also cases pending against the operators of Snappzmarket and Applanet. The founder of Applanet previously launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay for his defense, but only managed to raised $1,029 of the required $50,000.

The FBI, meanwhile, is already on the lookout for their next targets.

“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,” FBI Special Agent Johnson says.

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