A Global Piracy Heat Map Print E-mail



With the release of Google's License Verification Library (LVL) and the subsequent cracking of applications that make use of LVL, the Android development community has been buzzing.  The Android Developers Google Group has several active threads discussing how LVL can be improved and what the best approach to solving piracy on the platform might be.

One Google engineer made an interesting statement in response to my claim that I thought a "culture of piracy" might be developing in the Android user community:

"If you are saying that [there's a culture of piracy] because you think most people are pirating Android apps...  I think your perception of things is probably pretty off.  I know lots of people who have Android devices, and none of them even think of turning on the option to install from external sources, let alone go out and find pirated apps." 

That's actually a really good point.  I don't know anyone that pirates apps.  The statement raised a very interesting question in my mind:  Who actually is pirating Android apps?  In my experience for my apps such as Screebl Pro, I've seen piracy rates that are very high (as I described in this blog posting). Things had gotten so bad, in fact, that we actually developed our own license verification solution some months before LVL in an attempt to stop piracy of our applications. 

But the question remains.  If I'm not pirating apps, and you aren't, and no one knows anyone who is, where is the piracy coming from?  In the case of my app, I thought it would be interesting to try and identify which parts of the world were spawning the most pirates.

Keyes Labs Open Sources Licensing Solution Print E-mail

Over the course of the last few weeks, there have been thousands of downloads of Automatic Application Licensing (AAL).  It's been deployed in a handful of apps, including Screebl Pro and other applications not associated with Keyes Labs.  For the most part, however, AAL has been a big flop when it comes to commercial interest.  I'm not entirely sure of the reasons for this, but one of the biggest complaints that I've heard to date is that the software is closed-source.  We originally decided to keep AAL closed-source in an attempt to thwart crackers, but I've come to the conclusion that the drawbacks of this approach outweigh the benefits.

As of today, the source code for AAL is freely available at http://code.google.com/p/autoapplic/.  We've removed the licensing lockdowns, and released the source under the Apache 2.0 license. We will be maintaining the code based on donations going forward, but obviously we will continue to support those that purchased licenses for the commercial version.

We hope that release of the AAL source helps to improve the quality of the product, and we're excited to see what the community does with it!  If you're interested in contributing to the project, please let us know.


Introducing Automatic Application Licensing Print E-mail

KeyesLabs.com is proud to announce our latest innovation for the Android platform: Automatic Application Licensing (AAL).  We're excited to offer this technology to Android developers, as we think it will provide a crucial tool for those that are struggling with piracy of their mobile applications.  In a nutshell, AAL licenses an application by validating that it was purchased from the Android Market. It sounds simple, it is simple.  We're not sure why no one has done this before.

We've been burned by piracy ourselves at KeyesLabs.  Our successful utility application called Screebl (which keeps the screen on based on how you hold your phone) has been downloaded nearly 100,000 times.  As the app has gained in popularity, however, we've noticed a frustrating increase in the number of installations that are pirated.  At this point we are beyond 70% of all installs being stolen, and some days we top 90%.  Holy crap!  Yes, yes, we've heard all of the arguments about how piracy can't be fought, it's not really going to hurt you anyway, it's a free form of advertising.  Whatever. We want a way to limit the theft of our intellectual property.  Google hasn't given any indication that they're going to tackle the problem any time soon, so we took a look to see if there was anything that we could do.