Google Announces Licensing Service to Combat Piracy

Google and the Android team are doing their part to make sure you are using legit versions of paid apps and not knock-offs and outdated APKs downloaded from a torrent site.  The Android Developers blog has a short post up today that talks about their new licensing service aimed to help developers fight piracy.

This simple and free service provides a secure mechanism to manage access to all Android Market paid applications targeting Android 1.5 or higher. At run time…your application can query the Android Market licensing server to determine the license status of your users. It returns information on whether your users are authorized to use the app based on stored sales records.  This licensing service operating real time over the network provides more flexibility in choosing license-enforcement strategies, and a more secure approach in protecting your applications from unauthorized use, than copy protection.

We previously mentioned the efforts of Keyes Labs who was already feeling the effects of piracy.  The lead developer came up with his own method of ensuring his apps were being used in legitimate situations.  They created a customizable validation tool that gave developers the ability to handle enforcement as they see fit.

Google’s plan it to slowly roll this new system out over the next few months and ultimately replace the copy-protection mechanism currently in place.  If you are a developer and want to learn more, head over to Licensing Your Applications and Android Market Help Center for more details!

  • Anon

    I'm hoping custom ROMs will implement a feature that will redirect these requests to a catchall that validates all copies of certain software. Last thing I want is Google removing the only alternative I have to getting Market apps in my country :/

  • that sounds like it's gonna slow my g1 to its death.

  • Nps_ca

    So you guys here are encouraging piracy it sounds like. Why put rom developers in the cross hairs of advocating piracy?

    If an app is useful pay for it, many apps have lite versions that are ad supported if paying is an issue.

    Support the devs who do make an effort – you paid a few hundred for your phone and you can’t spend 40 bucks or so a year on apps?

    The core OS being open source doesn’t mean we are entitled to free apps. If you have a fundamental issue witty this then go develop your own apps.

    • Anon

      You're not really getting it are you? We don't have access to certain items in the Market. I would gladly pay for a lot of them, but unless the developer sets up a donation link (it's rare…trust me), I can't "pay" for the Application that doesn't show up in the Market

      Oh btw, numerous ROMs come pre-installed with pay-for applications. So, not painting them in a bad light, but let's not act like it doesn't happen.

      • Nps_ca

        Agree to your point… But there are PLENTY of people milling around with legal access to the Market who refuse to pay for apps.

      • You can always try contacting the dev directly and asking if you can pay them for the app. I'm a developer and I do it all the time, usually with paypal and then I just email the app to the user. Works fine.

        • Matt

          When the particular application is not advertised on websites like this, people from countries like Anon don't even know the app exists so hardly can purchase it.

  • Will

    They mention being able to replace copy-protection which I really like the sound of.
    This will hopefully allow paid applications, that would otherwise be copy protected, be installed on the sdcard while still being secure.

    This will hopefully also attract more developers in the long run.

    Anon, there were rumours about Google adding new payment methods to the market shortly.
    Hopefully they will open paid apps to much more of the world by the time they implement this.

  • Ah, I can't wait for the day that I curse down at my screen because some game I legally paid for won't let me play it, cause it can't acquire a license.

    But I'm all for letting copy protected apps –> licensed apps be installed to sd.

  • Philr

    WWith all of the talk about tiered data plans I would like to know how this will affect data usage. A

  • Tomaco

    First make paid market for whole world , 2nd do this…

  • Dragos

    So any licensed / paid app will now start slower, until it checks for its license (depending on the quality of your connection at the time). So much for having 1GHz processors and lots of RAM while looking impatiently at a "checking license" progress bar which is stuck. In the end, like lots of stuff Google has done, this will turn against developers because people will know that paid apps are slow starting (or even non-starting 🙂 ).
    And getting into a region were you don't have a data connection (or any connection) suddenly makes your apps unusable. Great to be in the mountains and not be able to use your nav software because it can't check for its license.

    • Charlie

      They could give it a certain grace period where you can use the app without being verified, so if you go say a week without connecting to the Internet, you can still use the app.

  • Zero

    The only way I can imagine this working is if there is a special file that will contain your licenses in some kind of encrypted fashion. Thus when you first run the application it verifies the license and saves it locally. Future launches will check the license in the file against a hash created by the application. Getting a new version would cause it to recheck the license, etc…