The leaders of large Android app piracy groups, aged 22 and 29, have recently pleaded guilty to copyright infringement charges. The individuals operated the SnappzMarket and Applanet groups before the FBI shut them down 4 years ago.
In the middle of 2012, the FBI and the police in France and the Netherlands joined their forces to take offline 3 illegal Android app stores: Applanet , Appbucket and SnappzMarket. These three domains were seized in a first of its kind operation. Their operators were arrested and have been slowly pleading guilty to various copyright infringement charges over the past years. Now two more operators are added to the list: a then 16-year-old creator of Applanet, a service dedicated to the sharing of Android software, and his co-conspirator. After Applanet was raided in 2012, they tried to crowdfund a defense against the American government in 2014.
Now the app store operator is 22 and has just pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement, along with his co-conspirator, who pleaded guilty in January 2016. The US Department of Justice explained that from May 2010 through August 2012, the members of the Applanet Group conspired to copy and distribute more than 4 million copies of copyrighted Android apps via the Applanet alternative online market without permission from the victim rights holders, who would otherwise profit from selling apps on legitimate app store for a fee. One of the men also pleaded guilty to copyright infringement as the leader of SnappzMarket, admitting to conspiring to distribute more than a million pirate Android apps worth $1.7 million. The men will be sentenced in August. The groups are said to have distributed illegal Android apps with a retail value in excess of $17 million.