AppsLib distributing without permission
Today I found out that the AppsLib Android application directory is distributing one of my companies apps against our wishes.
They’ve provided no method for removing the app, no method for closing the account they’ve created under our name, and I suspect that we’re not the only company they’ve done this to. The email address for the account is our support email address, but we’ve never received an account confirmation email or any indication it was being used in this way.
I can understand that type of tactic when a store is building it’s catalogue from scratch in the very early days, and yes, there were a few instances at AndAppStore when it happened, but that was stopped within a few weeks of launching. AppsLib is now well over two years old and claims to offer tens of thousands of apps (although it doesn’t say how many have the application authors approval), so they must either be desperate or just think that doing this kind of thing is perfectly acceptable.
It’s made all the more annoying for the fact that my company were asked to develop the original AppsLib for Archos (who are the parent company of the AppsLib organisation), only to have them copy our system design (right down to the data formats used between the server and client), give it to a third party to implement (probably paying them less than they’d agreed to pay us), and not pay us a penny (before you ask, the only reason we didn’t take them to court was the expected mid-five figure court fees we’d be liable for if they went bust, which we believed they would).
So if you’re an Android developer it might be worth checking out AppsLib to see if they’ve taken your apps in a similar manner. It’s worth remembering that devices with AppsLib on probably haven’t gone through the Google Compatibility Test Suite and Google approval process which devices that run Market have, and so you may find some weird and wonderful crashes appearing in your analytics due to weird hardware configurations or OEM firmware customisations.
As for our app, well, we’ve updated it to use the following description should now put off most users so we can ensure we don’t have to deal with debugging issues on minority hardware platforms where it’s only being used by a few users;
“This application is being distributed without the copyright owners permission. Please be aware that other applications on AppsLib may also be distributed in the same way and could leave you open to prosecution for offences related to the downloading and use of pirated software.”
[Update: They have now removed all of our software. If you’re in a similar position I would suggest emailing them directly and asking them to remove yours to show this behaviour is not acceptable for larger application directories]