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Android Piracy Your Rights Online

Pirated Android App Shames Freeloaders 519

Posted by timothy
from the hey-I-pay-per-text-you-insensitive-clod dept.
MojoKid writes "A pirated version of an Android app is actually a Trojan that shames someone who installs it by sending an SMS message to all his/her contacts telling them of his/her piracy. The original app is called Walk and Text, and costs $2.10 in the Android Market. The app uses the camera on the back of a smartphone to show a user a visual of his upcoming surroundings, which will supposedly prevent the user from running into the street or across a set of train tracks. The pirated version is available from unofficial Android app markets, and once installed redirects the pirate to the legitimate app in the Android Market, while also sending the SMS message to the phone's entire contact list."
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Pirated Android App Shames Freeloaders

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  • by amnesia_tc (1983602) on Sunday April 03, 2011 @01:41PM (#35700666)
    ...I don't have any friends! I'm so lonely :(
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 03, 2011 @01:44PM (#35700692)

    Don't click the link in the summary - it posts a message to Slashdot telling everyone you tried to read the article :(

    • Don't click the link in the summary - it posts a message to Slashdot telling everyone you tried to read the article :(

      Are the editors looking for things to do next April Fool's day?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 03, 2011 @01:48PM (#35700726)

    Although this is a novel and some what interesting approach to pirates, i think this approach itself depending on the implementation etc.. might effectively count as breaking the law, unless the user who install the pirated software agree to a Terms of Use Agreement that explicitly mentions such actions might be possible or as a consequence if software thinks its pirated.

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Considering that I don't have a text message plan (having to pay a ridiculous $0.05 a message to and fro), I'm pretty sure someone will be in hot shit over this, espcially if the guy has a ton of contacts. I would also be hesitant to put the legitimate app on my phone because of this.

      • $0.05/message is nothing. Most carriers in Canada charge $0.15/message and some charge $0.40.

        I do have a plan, but what concerns me is that there's international numbers in my cell phone. I don't pay for calling them, because I have a good plan with the phone, but I would pay between $0.50 and $2.50 to text them, depending on what country they're in....

        (that said, I wouldn't install an app like that... if I need to send a text, I sit down to type it out, and don't really nneed to worry about walking into tr

    • Honestly, I'd be more concerned about what it says about the difficulties(both any that are specific to android, and any that are more or less architecturally inevitable) of smartphone security models...

      Since this application is designed to send text messages, it is a bit tricky to imagine a good security model that would allow it to send ones you want it to and prevent it from sending ones that you don't; but that doesn't make the fact that potentially hostile code has access to both your contacts and a
    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Assuming the pirated version isn't in fact pirated but a version planted by the original author, how is the downloader supposed to know he's downloading the "pirate" version? And if it is some sort of copy protection, what if it accidentally identifies itself as a pirated version?
      I don't expect to wait for long for a defamation lawsuit against the authors of this app.

  • by Chaonici (1913646)

    Calling pirates "freeloaders" is an unnecessary ad hominem designed to turn everyone else against them without applying critical thought to the issue at hand. It's the same as calling it "theft" or "stealing". The terminology may technically apply, but in the circles in which piracy is usually discussed (such as Slashdot), saying these things quickly makes you look like a troll.

    I'm disappointed in the submitter and the editor for allowing the term "freeloader" in the headline. If you wish to oppose piracy,

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Do it with terms that make me look like I'm not sidestepping the payment of someone, while still using the services that they [theoretically] worked hard to provide me."

      "It's no different than eating someone's food and then skipping on the bill, but I really don't want to feel bad about it, so please come up with some term that hides the reality of the situation from me."

      • by Chaonici (1913646)

        Because eating food and not paying for it is comparable to downloading software and not paying for it. Yeah.

        • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Sunday April 03, 2011 @09:04PM (#35704036) Homepage

          Because eating food and not paying for it is comparable to downloading software and not paying for it. Yeah.

          Yes, they are comparable. In both cases, someone has offered to provide a service to you. One is providing food, the other providing software. In both cases the party offering the service has spend money in order to provide that service.

          The restaurant paid rent on their building, they paid the kitchen staff. They paid the waiters. They paid for the ingredients that were used to make the meal.

          The software company paid rent on their building, they paid their employees. They paid for equipment to develop the software.

          In both cases you use the service without contributing to them making up those costs.

      • But piracy clearly is "different than eating someone's food and then skipping on the bill". I'm not saying piracy is morally right, but there is a clear difference between taking someone's food (once you've eaten it, they're permanently deprived of it) and taking a digital copy of their software (once you copy it, they have as many copies of their software as they did before your action). Claiming that copying software is the same as stealing food is akin to a Native American belief that being photographe
        • by beelsebob (529313)

          Except that the claim that a digital item does not cause the creator to be deprived of everything makes a fallacious assumption, specifically, that the creator will sell an infinite number of copies.

          The creator invested time and effort in producing the item. If they sell zero items and you pirate it, you have deprived them of all that time and effort. If they sell one item and you pirate it, you have deprived them of half their time and effort, if they sell n items and you pirate it, you have deprived the

          • Ahhh, you're moving the goalposts. I never said it wasn't wrong, or that it wasn't "as bad" as stealing food, I said that it is different. Clearly, it is different. Piracy is wrong, I agree with you on that, but it is not theft. As I've said before, it's no more theft than it is arson ("you've burnt up their profits"), or assault ("you've hit them where it hurts"), or indeed rape (I'm not going to make a phrase up for that one). Piracy is wrong, but it isn't theft/stealing.

            I don't know why you think th

            • by beelsebob (529313)

              Ahhh, you're moving the goalposts. I never said it wasn't wrong, or that it wasn't "as bad" as stealing food, I said that it is different. Clearly, it is different.

              But only in so much as stealing a car is different from stealing food... Given that the original comparison was used as a metephore, they could hardly say "piracy is no different from piracy" now could they ;)

              I don't know why you think the creator needs to sell an infinite number of copies in order for piracy to be different from theft. And, as a matter of simple fact, the creator will have spent that time whether they sell 1000 copies or none, and whether 1000 copies are pirated or none. No-one can take another person's time away after the fact; time can only be taken prospectively (e.g. false imprisonment).

              You've made my own point – the developer has invested time for an expected return – if he sells 0 copies his return is very low, and you steal all of his time, if he sells 1000 copies his return is low and you steal quite a large amount of his time, if he sells 1000000 copies his return is

        • by GIL_Dude (850471)
          You are correct; stealing does require that the original no longer be in possession of the rightful owner. I do agree that we need to come up with and use a term other than theft for this. There are two different things going on:

          1) Making an unauthorized copy. Let's call that copyright violation.
          2) Using that software after violating copyright. Let's call that freeloading.

          I think we should be able to agree on these new terms. They pretty much EXACTLY spell out what is going on, irregardless of your stanc
    • by NiceGeek (126629) on Sunday April 03, 2011 @01:54PM (#35700770)

      http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/freeloader [merriam-webster.com]
      "a person who is supported by or seeks support from another without making an adequate return"
      Please tell me how the use of that term was incorrect.

      • http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/freeloader [merriam-webster.com]
        "a person who is supported by or seeks support from another without making an adequate return"
        Please tell me how the use of that term was incorrect.

        By your definition, somebody could take a photo of me, publish it in the media so everybody can see it, and I'd be able to call the whole world a bunch of freeloaders.

        You'll be right once you can show us what the app's author is doing to support pirates that he isn't already doing with existing customers.

    • by kikito (971480)

      I think people that download stuff from shady Internet sites and install them on their phones deserve other names. Here's a short list: stupid, ignorant, irresponsible and dumb.

    • by mr100percent (57156) on Sunday April 03, 2011 @02:04PM (#35700852) Homepage Journal

      You remind me of the client from Clients from Hell [clientsfromhell.net]:

      [I’m not a designer but the attorney hired by a designer. I’m informing the client over the phone that he’s being sued for not paying the amount specified.]

      Me: “Good afternoon, my name is [xxx], representing [designer] and [company]. We’re calling about payment that has not yet been received for a project which you agreed to pay for.”

      Client: “What?! Who’s suing me?! Who is this?”

      Me: “As I said, my name is [xxx], representing [designer] and [company]. You have X,XXX.XX that was supposed to be paid several months ago, as agreed upon by a contract with my clients.”

      Client: “Are you suing me for a website? You’re not making any damn sense!”

      Me: “You owe someone a fair deal of money and you’ve made it very clear that you have no intention of paying. I have several emails from your email address responding to my clients with messages such as “sayonara, suckers” and I am calling to see if you’d like to pay your fees now, or if we need to bring this into a courtroom, which I’m sure we’re all looking to avoid.”

      Client: “I don’t know who this is or what the hell you want from me but listen up: fooling someone to make you a website isn’t a crime!”

      Me: “You’re actually looking at some large fines and — should this be considered a felony — jail time.”

      Client: “You’re a damn lawyer, you should know websites aren’t real. A website isn’t a thing, you can’t steal it! [designer] can still look at it, it’s still kinda his!”

      [Within three days time, the designer received a check with the amount listed and an additional $20.00 “for your asshole lawyer boyfriend.” The designer had to resist framing the check for the novelty.]

      • by russotto (537200)

        The Client from Hell is right; he didn't steal the website. He just committed breach of contract, and apparently by his own admission, fraud (by entering into the contract with no intention of actually paying).

    • Horse shit.

      It's definitely not theft, but piracy is in fact legally prohibited - that is, "against the law" or "illegal". The legal instrument of copyright does in fact exist, and gives the holder the right to charge a price for it - whether the pirates believe it does or not.

      So by not paying the price asked and acquiring it through other means, they are in fact freeloading - if you define freeloading as "getting for free that for which payment is expected"

      So if you want to condone this action, you need to

      • by Chaonici (1913646)

        The funny thing is that you're actually right. From a certain point of view, copyright infringement is freeloading. From a certain point of view, copyright infringement is theft. The problem is that making claims like "it's theft/freeloading, pure and simple" do nothing whatsoever to address the issue itself; they only exacerbate the giant Internet flamewar that is the piracy debate. Most people consider "freeloading" to be a negative term, so when they hear "pirates are freeloaders", they automatically ass

        • But as it stands, it is freeloading. And you're putting words in peoples' mouths. When I hear "pirates are freeloaders", I think about how they're getting things for free that I followed the rules on. I don't like that - in school, in life, in business, or for software.

          We should definitely be discussing the rules themselves, but the pirates are absolutely 100% responsible for breaking them as they currently stand. This is inarguable, and they are currently freeloading while others are not. This has nothing

    • by Hortensia Patel (101296) on Sunday April 03, 2011 @02:09PM (#35700908)

      Oh, come on. This is just silly.

      There are perfectly reasonable arguments to be made against the use of "theft" or "stealing" in this context, because acquiring a digital good without paying for it doesn't normally deprive anybody else of that good.

      But "freeloaders"? Granted, that term has various shades of meaning, but the dominant usage is equivalent to "free rider": someone who obtains a benefit without paying any of the costs involved in providing that benefit. Which describes pirates exactly. It's no more hyperbolic than describing sharks as "predators" or tapeworms as "parasites"; it's just saying what they do.

    • by Drakino (10965)

      Calling pirates freeloader is pretty fitting actually in the modern day. Many pieces of software (both free and paid) have hidden costs these days. One big hidden cost is the servers necessary to host the download, to run services, and to provide support forums. By pirating an app, you deprive the author the revenue necessary to recoup the cost of those servers, while possibly adding load to those servers. It's not a "zero harm" situation anymore. Even if the app is free and mirrored without permission

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Omnifarious (11933) *

      I think 'freeloader' is a perfectly appropriate term. Essentially people who do this are taking advantage of a system designed to incentivize creation without paying the cost for that system. While I debate the merits of this system in our current society, I think freeloader is a perfectly valid term, somewhat analogous to 'free rider', which they also are.

      I think 'pirate' is a horrible, overblown term, and I do not agree with terms like 'steal' or 'theft'. What's going on is none of those things. But they

    • You know what I find funny? When it comes out that some company is using open source code in violation of the GPL, /.ers start screaming bloody murder, even if it's not being used commercially. So tell me, how is that so much different than piracy? You're taking someone else's work and using it in a way that is not authorized, often distributing it in an unauthorized way.

      I'm sure we've all pirated software before, but the justifications I see here are just a bunch of /.ers spouting cognitive dissonance.
      • I think you're lumping different peopel together and attempting to paint a gross and/or false generalization here.
  • by JackSpratts (660957) on Sunday April 03, 2011 @01:51PM (#35700746) Homepage
    There are those circles (like mine) where such messages lead to high compliments.
  • Incredible! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 03, 2011 @01:53PM (#35700758)

    The app uses the camera on the back of a smartphone to show a user a visual of his upcoming surroundings

    Wow! You know what else does that? Eyes.

    Anyone who pays $2.10 for this should be shamed, not the pirates.

  • The app uses the camera on the back of a smartphone to show a user a visual of his upcoming surroundings, which will supposedly prevent the user from running into the street or across a set of train tracks.

    Constantly show a safe environment. The truck or train would take care of the rest. That would certainly teach them to rely on an app instead of staying vigilant themselves.

    • That might actually be illegal, for the same reason it's illegal to set beartraps in front of your door even if somebody does break in. Somebody breaking the law does not allow you to break the law in return.

      In any case, this is a much smarter business proposition. I think this is hilarious and IMHO the punishment fits the crime - you were too cheap to pay $2.10 for a piece of software you're using, so I'll make you look like a dick. But the developers would come off like assholes if somebody did get killed

    • by EvilIdler (21087)

      Your idea is callous, evil, despicable, anti-social and probably shows you have some mental issues.

      I like it!

    • by Xtravar (725372)

      I hate to be a debbie downer, but that would have very, very serious legal implications. In fact, if the app doesn't work properly even if you paid for it, it'd still have very serious legal implications. I hope the developer(s) have a good lawyer.

  • by Felix Da Rat (93827) on Sunday April 03, 2011 @02:07PM (#35700894)

    If you figure that a lot of carriers charge around $0.10 / text, if someone has more than 21 friends in their phone, it'll cost more in messages charges than buying the app. Some vendors charge even more per text (which is a separate rant), so this could add up FAST.

    I don't have a problem with that - heck I hope the author could find a way to get paid by those messages. But I could see some litigious asshat with 700 'friends' in their phone getting pissed when they get a huge bill.

    If I was the author, I'd cap it at 21 friends - has all the effects of the shaming, but closely reflects the authors own stated value of the app.

    • by tgd (2822) on Sunday April 03, 2011 @02:37PM (#35701122)

      In the US, the receivers of the message are also going to pay ten cents. So the author is punishing them, as well.

      I hope someone decides to sue the author of the app for it, too. If I break into your house and steal something, you can't break into the houses of all my friends. The law doesn't work that way.

      • if you break into my house and steal my bomb labeled, "Ham dinner" I'm not liable for any damages you incur because my bomb went off in your house.

  • by trifish (826353) on Sunday April 03, 2011 @02:08PM (#35700896)

    People need to realize that pirated software really is a major malware distribution channel today, and has been for several years.

    Tell your nephew that 90% of the cracks or keygens she downloads will also install a Trojan sending her passwords and credit card numbers back to the botnet masters.

    And this is not a "genuine advantage" marketing fluff -- it is hard reality.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 03, 2011 @02:16PM (#35700980)

      Now, is that really true? No, that's exactly what the software distributors want you to think. All the statistics created about the effects of piracy are fabricated.

      • Search for "* keygen", and click on the first google site. Download the EXE it offers you (OFFICE2010CRACKS.KEYGEN.EXE). Im sure its safe, go ahead, run it.

        No, its not "just what they want you to think", people looking for keygens are going to shady sites, and stop and ask yourself-- why WOULDNT a shady site admin have reason to give you bogus software? I mean, its not like they have any chance of making money off of you...

        Im sure the pro pirates on here will protest that if you know where to look, and

        • I see where the confusion comes from. You're including trojans that merely claim to be pirated software as pirated software, as well as sites that claim to provide such software.

          That's one way of looking at the situation, and it's not wrong per se, but it is a little counter intuitive for some. It also has the effect that you'd have to consider anti-virus software to be a major malware distribution channel as well, since a lot of malware masquerades as such.

    • by jamrock (863246) on Sunday April 03, 2011 @02:19PM (#35701006)

      Tell your nephew that 90% of the cracks or keygens she downloads

      Damn. Your family life must be.....interesting.

    • by DeadlyMind (1865616) on Sunday April 03, 2011 @02:54PM (#35701266)

      90% of the cracks or keygens she downloads will also install a Trojan

      I'd LOVE to see the source that supports this ridiculous claim.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday April 03, 2011 @06:03PM (#35702672)

      "Citation needed."

      Seriously, I work in computer support professionally and while I've seen pirated software as an infection vector, it is in the minority. By far the biggest malware distribution channel these days I see is scareware. There are popups that act like AV scanners and get people to install fake anti-malware software.

      So, let's see some number please.

  • Read the comments? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by margeman2k3 (1933034) on Sunday April 03, 2011 @02:09PM (#35700902)
    Not sure how many people read through the comments on the avast! page, but something definitely smells there.
    The CEO of the company that made this app sounds like a weird blend of troll and one of those king-of-nigeria scams.
    * He keeps ranting about how he's going to sue avast
    * He keeps shouting about how it's all a lie created by avast in order to slander his company
    * He repeatedly claims that his calls to avast were blocked, even though the CEO admitted that one of his colleagues spoke to the dev.
    * The only contact information for that company is found here [incorporateapps.com], which you can only get to through the avast article.
    * avast lists a few other red flags from this company: "checked the registration of www.incorporateapps.com and see some red-flags: semi-anonymous, no email contact, possibly eastern-european but registered in Germany, and registered through Tucows"

    But yeah, something here just doesn't feel right.
  • Uh oh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Sunday April 03, 2011 @02:13PM (#35700950)

    Sending unsolicited, paid SMS to the whole contact list of a person with a specially crafted trojan seems to be a more serious offence than the one-time copyright infringement of not paying for a $ 2.10 app, which actually not even qualifies as petty theft (because infringement is not theft).

    Basically, the developer has created a malware/trojan version of this app and for this he might (and, in my opinion, also should) get into serious legal trouble. In other words, what a jerk...especially, if you take into account what kind of a stupid application he sells.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by schwnj (990042)
      This is what I was thinking. Although I'm sympathize with the developer, this is the wrong way to go about dealing with privacy. Aside from the text costs associated with the "pirate" sending all of those text messages, it is likely the case that many of the recipients of those messages will also have to pay for receiving them. If the app permissions don't specify automatically sending text messages, then this developer could get into hot water.
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      He may also feel the wrath of the hardcore pirates, aside from being sued into non existence.

    • by kikito (971480)

      When you install an app that is able to send SMSs, you have to click on a dialog that says "you allow this app to send SMSs". It does the same with a variety of stuff, from internet access to GPS use. So I wouldn't call it exactly "unsolicited".

  • by Cthefuture (665326) on Sunday April 03, 2011 @02:31PM (#35701078)

    You can't set traps for people even if the only way they would be harmed by it would be because they themselves are doing something illegal.

    This does "harm" the person running the illegitimate app because it may cost them money to send all those messages plus any potential fallout from people thinking they are a software pirate.

    • by Compholio (770966)

      You can't set traps for people even if the only way they would be harmed by it would be because they themselves are doing something illegal.

      Not entirely true... At least in the US it is illegal for the government to entrap you, but there is no prohibition on private corporations doing the same. You can, however, sue over just about anything here (and you can sometimes win said crazy lawsuits).

    • by cbhacking (979169)

      Mind you, I think that's a stupid law. The maximum damage allowed should perhaps be relative to the crime. For example, somebody pirating a texting app should pay for a bunch of texts, as opposed to somebody pirating a texting app that lets them see their surroundings instead broadcasting a beacon to someobdy who runs them over with a car. However, I think in principle the idea of prohibiting this kind of thing is wrong. Impose whatever penalty you want on somebody who harms an innocent through such a trap,

  • Try a walled garden. Keeps the retards out...
  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Sunday April 03, 2011 @02:54PM (#35701254)
    Amusing, but in the end may be very self destructive. Given that it redirects the user to buy the real app, I think most of us have a strong belief who released this. Aside from the risk of lawsuits for such deceptive software, I would expect few android users to ever trust any software from this company ever again. Heck, I'm not even an Android user, but I'm going to learn the name of the company to be sure to never install any software from them, just in case they also code for a platform that I use. If they think that releasing trojans is acceptable behavior then I don't want their software on my systems.
    • by dreampod (1093343)

      While probably illegal (unless they have a solid User Agreement that people ignored saying it would do this) personally I find it no more morally dubious than the person who downloaded a version of the software that they knew was pirated. And as someone who actually pays for my software I MUCH prefer the mode of punishing the pirates with software that has a 'bonus' than punishing the legitimate users by including DRM.

  • Ack, shame won't work well with a pirate. Instead, have the trojan text REDCROSS to 90999, which sends $10 to the Japan relief effort.

  • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Monday April 04, 2011 @02:13AM (#35705368) Journal

    The really embarrassing part of all this is your contacts finding out that you actually need an app to help you not walk into lightpoles, in front of trains, etc because you can't stop texting for a single second.

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