Mistrial Declared In Applanet Android Piracy Case


Software piracy isn't something to take lightly. While the US Department of Justice isn't exactly looking to sue every single person in the country who ever pirated a single app, organizations which facilitate software piracy on a large scale have no such luck. Four years ago, the FBI conducted one of its first major operations related to Android app piracy. In the second half of 2012, the US government managed to close Applanet, Appbucket, and SnappzMarkez, previously some of the most popular pirate app stores for obtaining illegal copies of Android apps. In the process of doing so, the FBI also collected quite a bit of evidence against people involved in running the said pirate stores.

Of course, the justice system wasn't designed to be fast in order to minimize the risk of unfair trials and mistrials. This is why most of the aforementioned cases are still wrapping up. The only related verdict secured by the US Department of Justice so far is the one which saw Scott Walton, the PR manager of SnappzMarket sentenced to serve 46 months in prison on the basis of conspiring to commit copyright infringement. That number is even more menacing when you know that Walton actually pleaded guilty so that he serves a shorter sentence. In other words, the US isn't interested in going easy on convicted pirates.

However, that isn't to say everyone accused in these cases was willing to plead guilty and go down without a fight. David Lee, a California resident with alleged links to Applanet refused to settle with the Attorney General's office and went to trial. As things stand right now, that bold move paid off because his case just ended in a mistrial. Lee was facing accusations of conspiring to commit copyright infringement just like Walton. Other than that, he was also charged with aiding and abetting a criminal copyright infringement organization and conspiring to violate several provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.


Interestingly enough, the prosecution has recently dropped the copyright infringement charges because of a lack of conclusive evidence. Remaining charges were argued in court earlier this month but after deliberating for close to a week, the jury failed to reach a decision. This lead to the case ending in a mistrial, i.e. David Lee being declared not guilty. While the Department of Justice still has some legal means of initiating a retrial on other charges which it previously dropped, the Attorney General's office stated that it's still in the process of evaluating its options and currently has nothing further to announce.

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Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]

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