In first, DOJ charges app pirates

Four people have been charged by the Justice Department for pirating mobile device applications.

The department on Friday alleged that Kody Peterson, Thomas Dye, Nicholas Narbone and Thomas Pace had all stolen copyright apps on the Android operating system and sold them illegally.

The case is the Justice Department’s first against people charged with counterfeiting apps.

“Copyright laws are designed to protect creative thinkers and encourage them to use their talents in ways that benefit society,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement.

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“These defendants are charged with violating the law by stealing copyrighted apps, thereby depriving the creators of the apps the fruits of their labor. We are committed to protecting copyright owners, and we will continue to vigorously prosecute those who steal all forms of copyrighted work.”

According to the Justice Department, Peterson and others marketed themselves as the SnappzMarket Group and conspired to reproduce and distribute over 1 million copyrighted Android apps from May, 2011, to August, 2012. The apps were sold without the permission of the software developers or other copyright owners. 

Dye, Narbone and Pace called themselves the Appbucket Group and similarly worked to sell more than 1 million copyrighted apps.

Mythili Raman, the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s criminal devision, said that the action “exemplifies our longstanding commitment to prosecute those who steal the creative works of others.”

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