Android app pirate pleads guilty to criminal copyright infringement

An individual involved in running third-party Android app marketplace Applanet has pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) announced. According to the DoJ, Aaron Blake Buckley entered his guilty plea in response to charges that he sought to help distribute pirated versions of Android apps normally available on Google Play worth over $17 million. An associate of Buckley's, Gary Edwin Sharp II, previously plead guilty to the same charges in January.

According to statements made in court, the conspirators identified themselves as members of the Applanet Group. From May 2010 through August 2012, they conspired to reproduce and distribute more than four million copies of copyrighted Android apps through the Applanet alternative online market without permission from the victim copyright owners, who would otherwise sell copies of the apps on legitimate online markets for a fee. On Aug. 21, 2012, the FBI seized the Applanet website, which marked the first seizure of the domain name for a website involving a mobile device app marketplace.

The release also notes that Sharp has also admitted to having a role in running a separate third-party app marketplace called SnappzMarket Group. Both Buckley and Sharp are scheduled to be sentenced on August 1.