Rightsholders Urge Apple and Google to Remove Pirate Apps

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A coalition of media outlets in Ukraine has accused Apple and Google of willingly distributing apps that index pirates movies and music. A local video platform sent notice and takedown requests for a variety of apps, but both Apple and Google initially chose to keep them online. The coalition says it's unacceptable that the U.S. makes Ukraine the "scapegoat for online piracy" while these American companies refuse to take swift action.

pirateappleWhen it comes to online piracy Ukraine has a pretty bad reputation. Last year the country was placed on the top of the USTR’s priority watch-list, the worst category possible.

To counter this image a group of Ukrainian copyright holders has started the “Clear Sky” initiative. The coalition wants to emphasize that Ukraine is not the only country that has to take responsibility for piracy and says that U.S. companies must also do their part.

This week the group pointed the finger at Apple and Google, who are reportedly refusing to remove ‘infringing’ apps from their respective stores.

The copyright holders say that apps such as LazyEXua, EX.ua Cinema, Music.ex.ua, EX Plus, and Kartina TV give users access to a wide variety of copyrighted videos and music, without compensating the owners.

Music.ex.ua, for example, is available for free in the App Store. It lists millions of songs on the Ukrainian file-hosting site Ex.ua, which iOS users all over the world can stream for free.

One of The ‘Pirate’ apps copyright holders want removed


In an attempt to get several infringing apps removed, the online video portal Divan TV recently complained to both Apple and Google. Divan TV owns distribution rights to a wide variety of titles which makes them a rightsholder much like the original creator, but reportedly both Apple and Google were reluctant to take action.

“We’ve got an automated answer that only rightholders, not services, are entitled to approach them,” Divan TV’s Katerina Diachenko said commenting on the issue.

Apple’s press center in Russia and Google Ukraine both noted that they have policies in place to deal with copyright infringement but refused to comment on individual cases. Why Divan TV was not seen as a rightsholder remains a mystery for now.

TorrentFreak searched for the apps Divan complained about and it appears that some have since been removed. However, the Clear Sky coalition notes that many other ‘pirate’ apps remain available.

Pavel Mykolyuk, director of the law firm Vindex and a key member of the Clear Sky coalition, finds it unacceptable that two of the biggest technology brands are refusing to take action.

“It is obvious that certain Apple and Android mobile apps available for download are publishing pirated content. While Apple and Google take a strong stance on content considered inappropriate such as porn, both brands are unwilling to expand their remit to include content that breaches copyrights,” Mykolyuk informs TorrentFreak.

In part, Mykolyuk believes it’s because Ukrainian rightsholders are taken less seriously than their counterparts in the United States.

“Here in Ukraine, we are being made the scapegoat for online piracy and while we recognize and are acting on the problem within our country, we are increasingly fighting policy shortsightedness of Google and Apple regarding piracy enabling within their own marketplaces,” Mykolyuk adds.

By addressing these issues in public the alliance hopes to show that piracy is not just a Ukrainian problem, and that all countries have to take their responsibilities. Thus far, however, many of the apps in question remain available.


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