Android App Piracy Spurs Novel U.S. Charges Against Four

Two separate schemes for illegally copying and distributing copyrighted applications for Android mobile devices led to a first-of-its-kind piracy case against four men, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Kody Jon Peterson, 22, worked with an organization calling itself the SnappzMarket Group to reproduce and distribute more than 1 million copies of copyrighted apps, prosecutors said. Three others did the same with an organization called the Appbucket Group, they said.

“These crimes involve the large-scale violation of intellectual property rights in a relatively new and rapidly growing market,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman said yesterday in a statement. “This represents the first counterfeit apps case by the Department of Justice.”

Peterson, of Clermont, Florida; Thomas Allen Dye, 21, of Jacksonville, Florida; Nicholas Anthony Narbone, 26, of Orlando, Florida; and Thomas Pace, 38, of Oregon City, Oregon, were charged with conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, the U.S. said.

Both groups rented computer servers to host websites to store pirated copies, prosecutors said. The government seized the website domain names for the apps’ marketplaces.

Peterson was arraigned Jan. 23 and Dye, Narbone and Pace were arraigned yesterday, according to prosecutors.

Marcia G. Shein, a lawyer representing Peterson at the Federal Criminal Law Center in Decatur, Georgia, didn't immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the charges.

Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman, said he couldn't provide information on who is representing the other defendants named in the statement or where they were arraigned.

Peterson waived indictment and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gerrilyn Brill in Atlanta and was released, according to court filings.

Peterson's case is USA v. Peterson, 14-cr-00025, U.S.District Court, Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta).

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