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Four Charged in Android Mobile App Piracy Operation

Four individuals have been charged for their alleged roles in an operation that distributed pirated copies of Android applications, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Friday.

According the DOJ, from May 2011 until August 2012, individuals involved in the “SnappzMarket Group” illegally copied and distributed more than one million copies of copyrighted Android mobile device apps through the SnappzMarket alternative Android market.

Pirated Android AppsAdditionally, the DOJ said that from August 2010 to August 2012, the defendants conspired with members of the "Appbucket Group" to reproduce and distribute over one million copies of copyrighted Android apps through the Appbucket alternative online market without permission from the copyright owners of the apps.

According to the DOJ, the individuals being charged operated the websites www.snappzmarket.com and www.appbucket.net, which offered online storage for the pirated copies of copyrighted Android apps that were distributed to their members or subscribers.

On Aug. 21, 2012, seizure orders were executed against the two websites, the first time domains involving mobile device app marketplaces were seized.

The crackdown marks the first time the Department of Justice has worked on a counterfeit mobile apps case.

The defendants in the case, Kody Jon Peterson, 22, of Clermont, Fla., Thomas Allen Dye, 21, of Jacksonville, Fla., Nicholas Anthony Narbone, 26, of Orlando, Fla., and Thomas Pace, 38, of Oregon City, Ore., have all been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.

The maximum prison sentence for the charge of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement is five years in prison.

“These crimes involve the large-scale violation of intellectual property rights in a relatively new and rapidly growing market,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman. “While this represents the first counterfeit apps case by the Department of Justice, it exemplifies our longstanding commitment to prosecute those who steal the creative works of others.”

“These defendants are charged with violating the law by stealing copyrighted apps, thereby depriving the creators of the apps the fruits of their labor,” said U.S. Attorney Yates.

“The federal charges presented in this case illustrates the problems facing technology based companies in particular but also highlights the FBI and U.S. government response to those engaged in such wholesale criminal activity involving the piracy of copyrighted products,” said FBI SAC Maxwell.

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For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.