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Google Adds Licensing Server DRM To Android Market 184

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-androids-dream-of-electric-rights dept.
eldavojohn writes "According to AfterDawn, Google has given app makers the option to use a license server as DRM to ensure the user has paid for an app before they can download it. Reportedly, the Market app will communicate with a Google license server using RSA encryption. It is important to note this is only available for non-free apps (built with SDK 1.5 and later), and it was instituted to provide a better solution to the old and widely criticized copy protection scheme that was susceptible to Android app piracy (like sideloading). For better or for worse, Android's Marketplace appears to now have an optional, phone-home form of DRM." Following news of the new licensing service, Hexage Ltd, makers of a popular Android game called Radiant, released the data they had collected on piracy of Radiant over a 10-month period beginning last October. A series of charts shows total users, paid users and the piracy rate, by region.
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Google Adds Licensing Server DRM To Android Market

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  • Call me paranoid (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MikeyVB (787338) on Friday July 30, 2010 @04:59PM (#33089258)

    With recent news about certain Android apps sending private information to whomever created it, I have recently installed DroidWall to filter access (e.g. - Battery meter apps!? Puh-leez!) to my phone's data connection.

    If some app expects me to allow a data connection just to prove I am not a thief, sorry, I won't be buying it! And yes, I do purchase apps that I consider worthy.

    And what happens if someone is abroad? Would they have to pay $20 in roaming charges to play some bubble bobble game for an hour while waiting in some airport?

  • Re:Paying for apps (Score:2, Interesting)

    by poetmatt (793785) on Friday July 30, 2010 @05:17PM (#33089548) Journal

    almost everything on your list has DRM. However, lets take too it.

    Netflix Watch Instantly
    DRM and legal constraints enforced by Netflix. You know, silverlight? You can also thank MS for that one.

    Adobe Photoshop, including those high-end features that distinguish it from GIMP mods such as GIMPshop
    Adobe Flash CS3

    Adobe products have equivalents on open source but not necessarily free software - I'd consider gimp equivalent for development, mostly. Don't sit and try to tell me professionals prefer photoshop over gimp or vice versa. It's an even split and up to personal preference.

    TurboTax - you kidding me? there are free open source programs that do what turbotax does. Kmoney comes to mind.
    Stone Edge Order Manager I don't know what this is. Sorry, skipping.
    Sonic 3 & Knuckles
    Diablo II
    Starcraft
    Street Fighter IV
    Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

    These are all a: games which b: haven't been ported via opengl and c: depending on console, etc, have many forms of DRM with them. especially CODMW2. So you can play them, under wine, but you're really doing the same as running windows.

    I wouldn't call that failing to deliver by anyone other than the companies who made the games. They'd have a bigger market if they made the games linux/free software compatible as that can equate to android as well as open source. All of these companies are very slowly moving towards free software friendly, but it's probably going to be a few more years.

    I would also blame microsoft again for this, since DX11 and free software do not go together any more than silverlight or moonlight does.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday July 30, 2010 @05:33PM (#33089748)

    ... now I see why we have always been at war with Oceania - they are apparently stealing all our apps.

    It's pretty amazing the North America piracy figure is so much lower. I wonder if that's the result of a far larger user base in NA? Or are Europeans (where I thought the figure would be similar) just have a more pirate-prone culture?

    It would also be interesting to see beyond this static view, how many users they saw going from pirated to paid. That I think is the key figure to understand if piracy is a problem or a marketing tool.

  • Re:Call me paranoid (Score:3, Interesting)

    by yincrash (854885) on Friday July 30, 2010 @05:39PM (#33089848)
    I believe that this doesn't actually require the app to need the Internet permission. I believe it just requests the pay information from the Market app and the Market app uses the Internet, so you'd have to use droidwall to block market's internet access.
  • Re:"Do no evil" (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 30, 2010 @05:46PM (#33089950)

    It's true people get the concepts confused, but it's not entirely surprising. Even putting aside the ambiguousness of the word "free".

    What is not true is that the concepts are not at all related.

    The fact is, it's really, really hard to monetize a product and keep a competitive advantage when you have to give away pretty much all the resources required to reproduce it (source code) on request. Most people wouldn't pay anything unless they felt compelled to. Most people don't like to be compelled to pay anything, but it doesn't make in any less necessary.

    This makes them, to some degree, related.

    It means you either have to beg (for donations) or hope your product becomes big enough that businesses will pay for support. Small developers are the ones who generally can't monetize and get hurt. DRM, say what you like, has probably been the best thing to happen to small time, indie developers who actually would like to feed their families off their hard work and innovation.

    Don't get me wrong. I've released plenty of open source, free-in-every-sense-of-the-word projects over the years. But I value my right and ability to also release something and get paid for it.

  • by Miamicanes (730264) on Friday July 30, 2010 @07:27PM (#33091116)

    There were (at least) two fundamental flaws with the original Android Market protection scheme, neither of which appears to have been rectified by this change (besides possibly to make matters worse for end users):

    * As everyone has already noted, lots of people around the world with Android phones can't actually buy apps from Android Market, EVEN IF they have a Mastercard/Visa/AMEX card with dollar-denominated account. That's just plain fucked.

    * You can't officially purchase and run protected Market apps if your phone is running an unblessed "Developer" kernel. Of course, there's not a single goddamn phone from HTC, Samsung, or Motorola with Google-blessed kernel that has BlueZ Bluetooth HID profile compiled into it, so it's impossible to build your own kernel with it enabled without being formally exiled from 99% of commercial Android apps. At least, unless you crack them. Any DRM scheme that forces legitimate users to crack apps they purchased in order to use them is fundamentally broken, especially when there are still gaping holes in Android phones that need a customer kernel to fix.

    As for "developer's option" whether or not to cache, let's be honest... at least half the developers publishing commercial apps don't have the slightest clue in HELL how to implement a secure caching scheme, and they aren't going to purchase a proprietary one that demands more money up front than they're likely to earn from the app's sale. So, anybody care to guess what's going to happen? Most apps in Market are going to end up checking the server every goddamn time, because the alternatives are too hard/expensive for most Android publishers to deal with. IMHO, Google got THAT part EGREGIOUSLY wrong. They should have distributed the Android DRM module themselves, and made it free & easy for publishers to do cached checking, but left it difficult and minimally-documented how to bypass that caching and check the server every time.

    I love Android. I really do. But it's so incredibly frustrating when Google turns around and fucks things up in ways that CAN'T be fixed by end users with access to Android's sourcecode... usually, mistakes that are almost incomprehensible given the amount of in-house talent and expertise Google has available to it. At times, Google actually manages to make even *Microsoft* look coherent and customer-focused.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday July 30, 2010 @07:36PM (#33091220)

    Sell binaries offer only sources as no cost. That will compel most to pay.

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