DOJ convicts app pirates

Two men have pleaded guilty to federal charges that they illegally pirated more than 1 million copyrighted mobile applications.

The convictions are the government’s first ever for distributing counterfeit mobile apps.

According to the Justice Department, Nicholas Narbone and Thomas Dye reproduced and distributed more than 1 million copyrighted Android apps from 2010 to 2012 while operating as the Appbucket Group. The apps were worth more than $700,000.

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“These men trampled on the intellectual property rights of others when they and other members of the Appbucket group distributed more than one million copies of pirated apps,” acting Assistant Attorney General David O’Neil of the Justice Department’s criminal division said in a statement. “The Criminal Division has made fighting intellectual property crime a top priority, and these convictions demonstrate our determination to prosecute those who undermine the innovations of others in new technologies.”

“Theft is theft – whether the property taken is intellectual or tangible – and we will continue to prosecute those who steal copyrighted material,” added Sally Yates, U.S. attorney for the northern district of Georgia.

Narbone pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement on Monday. Dye pleaded guilty to the same charge on March 10. They have yet to be sentenced, but the maximum sentence for the charge is five years in prison.

The two were charged with other alleged pirates earlier this year.