Android's free-wheeling, open ecosystem has a major app piracy problem, and the US government just got involved in a big way. Yesterday, the Department of Justice announced that it had seized the domains of three popular destinations for illegal Android downloads. Applanet, Appbucket and Snappzmarket are now dead.
It's interesting to note that while the DoJ shuts down domains over other intellectual property claims frequently, this is the first time the agency has gone after domains over copyrighted mobile apps. The procedure for investigating the claims is basically the same as if the DoJ had been looking into pirated music or counterfeit couture: with the help of the FBI, investigators downloaded "thousands of copies of pirated mobile device apps". Upon confirming that the booty was illegal, seizing the US-based domains requires only a simple court order. Where evidence was stored on servers overseas, the US tapped "partners" in international law enforcement to assist in obtaining evidence and killing the sites.
Piracy is obviously really bad for developers, many of which are small businesses. But the efficiency of the US government's domain-killing machine is pretty terrifying. Let's hope they stick to a righteous path. [Department of Justice via Slashdot]