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Moral ambiguity and Android… where's the line?

By Russell H. Sr. Editor TDG Online

One of the biggest fights in the Internet world is the concept of stealing. From music and pictures, to movies and games there has been people who feel if it’s digital it’s theirs, and the creators and supporters who disagree. It’s a constant fight not just with whether it’s right or wrong, but what should be done to “fix” it. Now, with smartphone apps, the fight has spilled over into a smaller world, with smaller creators and smaller money. Should something be done to stop it, or is it a non issue?

There are services and sites out there that provide paid apps for either a monthly fee or just for free. The apps can be installed via SD and inmany cases provide the same experience as the app from the market. It’s perfect for anyone who doesn’t have the money, or for countries where a paid app market is not yet available. Some would argue that it’s a needed service, or that since everything else in the digital world is available for download, why shouldn’t this? As a member of the community, I take pride in being able to buy apps and donate when available. I firmly believe that my dollar goes to better apps, and a better Market. For those that don’t feel the same, and feel that they shouldn’t have to pay – Google disagrees. The window is shrinking on apps that are not secured by Google, and soon that service will die. Or will it? This world is no stranger to DRM, people have been beating it for years. If there is a will, and more importantly paying customers, there’s a way.

Google’s move to help secure the Market might seem hypocritical to some. After all, when setup correctly, I can walk down any aisle of a Best Buy, snap a shot of a DVD barcode, and be able to watch my freshly torrented movie by the time I get home. Not to mention the free music apps, the Redbox free codes app, and countless others that can be considered in some form or another as promoting theft of other kinds of digital media. This argument, however, usually ends in whether or not Google should be regularly policing the Market and removing “unsavory” elements… and we all know what kind of fruit that starts to resemble. So what’s the next step for Google and for our Devs if the piracy continues? Does it get ignored? Do newer, more clever sealing techniques get deployed? Where will that lead us?

The moral, ethical, functional dilemas that surround this issue are significant. As piracy groups rise, Android activists work with web hosts to shut them down. As security measures get put it place, so will the anti-security methods. There is significant pull on either side of this developing issue. Besides all of that, the developers themselves take a hit. This isn’t Hollywood. We aren’t dealing with people making big money on these projects. No one is “sticking it to the man” here. It affects the whole community, and I for one hope it eventually stops.

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