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back to article Android app DRM quietly disabled due to bug

Google has temporarily deactivated a security feature designed to make it harder to make illicit copies of apps for the latest version of its Android mobile OS, owing to a bug that rendered the secured versions of some apps inoperable. The feature, which was introduced with Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean," encrypts all paid apps …

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Mushroom

No more paid apps for me

Not until someone cracks that DRM wide open so I never have to deal with "sorry, you're a pirate and you can fuck off" messages ever again.

I just want what I paid for, and I don't want it disappearing because some cock-ends think it's okay to tie my device into some remote DRM checking server that can and has gone wrong. Once is too many times. The amount of times MX Player Pro, Asphalt 6 HD and a number of other paid apps have thrown robotic insults at me is beyond taking the piss.

If only I just got the lot of them from the 'bay to start with. This wouldn't have been a problem.

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Anonymous Coward

Is this the end of open source

Do I now detect hints of a closed operating system begining to develop.

DRM on Android!

Unacceptable.

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Meh

Walled Garden

Dammit, if Android are going to DRM everything and get it so badly wrong where does it leave the principle of choice?

This is an extremely uncomfortable scenario.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes it is true

I have posted this comment before...

But it's so fitting to hell with it, here it is again....

YET Another opportunity

For the android fan base to scream kick and shout like children in a nursery.

Actually that statement is insulting to very young children who do not have much control over their emotional responses.

At least they have an excuse, the Fandroids have none.

Ahhh I feel better now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Walled Garden

Google knows all too well that piracy is a problem on Android. Every platform struggles with it and it has almost finished off every platform where it has been rife.

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Anonymous Coward

Most

Android apps run on 2.3 so this will have little effect for the time being especially considering the length of time updates take to get out to users. In fact it's unlikely that 2.3 users will ever be updated to Jelly Bean so the DRM is neither here of there until its time to renew the handset.

The perfect work around is to stick with a previous version of the software.

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Stop

Re: Walled Garden

That piracy problem completely killed off Windows then? Strange, I missed that somehow....

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Re: Walled Garden

Depends. A lot of gaming companies have shifted development to the consoles citing piracy as the reason. Even Crytek have announced they are moving away from games retail as a result of piracy.

Even on the desktop and laptops, while WIndows has the largest market share still, it's share is lower than it was a few years ago.

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Stop

Re: Most

"Android apps run on 2.3 so this will have little effect for the time being especially considering the length of time updates take to get out to users. In fact it's unlikely that 2.3 users will ever be updated to Jelly Bean so the DRM is neither here of there until its time to renew the handset."

Yes but that won't be the case in two years when handsets get replaced. Google are putting in the foundations so that over time app piracy will be curtailed. It's not intended as a complete quick immediate fix solution.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Walled Garden

> A lot of gaming companies have shifted development to the consoles citing piracy as the reason.

Rubbish; it's money. The console market is bigger, you can charge more and the hardware is consistent so it's cheaper to support. You can then cobble together a half arsed port to sell to PC gamers anyway.

> Even Crytek have announced they are moving away from games retail as a result of piracy.

Double rubbish; money again. Crytek are owned by EA who have seen Valve's fantastically successful hat wearing simulator and want some of that action. They think the future is in micro-payment* based free to play games.

* In Battlefield play4free it costs about £8 to permanently buy a competitive weapon for a character. By default you have 3 characters each of which has a primary and secondary weapon. That's £48 for BF2 with less maps......

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Re: Walled Garden

plus console gamers buy any old shit whereas PC gamers wont touch most steaming turds. D3 excepted.

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Re: Walled Garden

Of course it's money. I never argued otherwise. Companies exist to make money. They do this by selling products. Pirates enable people to obtain those products without paying anything, so the company receives nothing. Oh, people may say that they still buy the games/music/films they really like, but I wonder how many actually do.

However, it's worth pointing out that the potential market for a PC game is still far larger than that for any console. Most families now days have at least one PC. No console can match that market size. But, the fact remains that a lot of companies are abandoning PC development, despite the advantage of the potentially huge market. Cost of support is one factor.

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Re: Is this the end of open source

The funny thing is that I develop and sell apps on the Android Marketplace, and I don't bother with the DRM as I'm aware of how much of a pain it can be. I dare say that most of the apps that rely on the DRM do so because the PHB has decreed it.

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FAIL

Re: Walled Garden @AC 8th August 2012 07:34 GMT

I call bulls**t on your statement - Windows seems to have gone from strength to strength since Version 1 and it has always been pirated...

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Re: No more paid apps for me

"I just want what I paid for..."

Its been said that locks only keep out good people.

Stick on a DRM lock and someone will crack it and send it everywhere.

Where as the average user who has paid for it is fighting with restrictions.

My usual example to throw out there is DVDs.

Buy a DVD and you can only watch it on your DVD player. You have to sit through the anti-pirate warning and the trailers for other films.

Download illegally and you can watch it on any device you own. You don't have to sit through any warnings and trailers.

You pay for it and you suffer. DRM is a bad thing.

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Linux

Re: Walled Garden

Every platform?

GNU/Linux doesn't seem to suffer much with piracy.

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Re: Is this the end of open source

Why not just use another App Store, there are loads and you don't have to use Android's Play Market.

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Vic
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Re: Is this the end of open source

No.

Vic.

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Re: Walled Garden

The potential markewt for pc games may be larger but you'll never sell to every PC owner where as when someone owns a console you know their intention is to play games.

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FAIL

Re: Walled Garden

How original, some forever alone professing how much better pc gaming is. Ignroing the fact that the PC largely. Get poor poor console ports so they're getting the rehashes or they're buying decade old games off gog, steam or whatever.

Yes you spend far more to graphics that are a bit nicer but your games aren't better in terms of gameplay or if they are it's just old games.

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Oh...

...and after reading that crap the article linked to, Matt Gemmell can fuck off too. You're part of the problem. Closed is better? Choice is a bad word? Please, just go away. You don't deserve my money.

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Re: Oh...

"Matt Gemmell can fuck off too."

Amen! - his statement: "If you want a platform to be commercially viable for third-party software developers, you have to lock it down." is complete stupidity.

I remember an operating system called windows that wasn't locked down the way he prescribes, and last time I checked it had a few third party developers making software for it :-P

Just sayin...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh...

I will never be able to look an iPhone user in the eye again!

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Re: Oh...

No, Matt Gemmell's absolutely right. You make about 5-10 times as much from the same game on iOS as you do on Android, so us developers are always going to prioritise iOS. It's fine by us if you want to have a hissy fit about DRM etc.. and choose an Android phone because of that but then don't be surprised if the AppStore gets better apps and games than the Android Market.

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Re: Oh...

I agree.

Sometimes I have to wonder whether the people with the biggest sense of entitlement, the ones who write this software and think they're entitled to money just because they did something hard, ever stop and wonder Just a minute -- are we the bad guys?

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Re: Just a minute -- are we the bad guys?

If you want to remote control my machine, to decide when and where the software that I bought can be run and how.. if you wish to have my machine dependant on your servers in order to work properly.. if you think that I have an unwarranted sense of entitlement simply because I want what I paid for to work without interruption.. if you think you have any rights to the product whatsoever after you have sold it..

Then yes, you are the bad guy, and you can take your unwarranted sense of entitlement to my money and fuck off.

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Anonymous Coward

I'll just hold off releasing my game on Android then until they have robust DRM that works.

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Anonymous Coward

Or you could make a game that's actually worth paying for. In the end, you cannot win if you think you can make money out of every single copy out there. Appstore games are supposed to be cheap enough that it's not WORTH the trouble to pirate them to your target audience, that is people with actual disposable income. People with too much time and too little money will find a way, just accept it as part of doing business.

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Pffft

Like I've ever seen a game that works decently on Android, other than Solitaire. Even the games bundled with my Xoom don't work.

Please go away, troll.

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Re: Pffft

Eh, the apps work wonderfully, for the most part. It's the DRM that gets in the way. As usual.

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Anonymous Coward

The day I allow my business strategy to be determined by your unwarranted sense of entitlement will be the day I go bankrupt.

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Anonymous Coward

The day I allow my business strategy to be determined by your unwarranted sense of entitlement will be the day I go bankrupt.

And that, in one sentence, is the best summary of the issue. For every legit copy sold, there are gazillions of illegal copies obtained by people who see not paying for the efforts of someone else's work as a right, amazing as that might be. There are plenty of arguments sprayed around defending this such as "they would not be customers anyway" and "software wants to be free", but if the software is sold, obtaining it without paying is quite simply theft. Software developers have to eat too.

However, DRM is a spectacularly bad way of enforcing copyright because it causes overhead in distribution, usability and support. As a chained set of events it becomes a chain where the weakest link will prevent the software from working, and guess who gets the support burden? Yup.. Worse, it wreaks havoc with backup and recovery (anyone remember Trusted Computing?).

I see the problem, but DRM is not one of the better answers. As far as I'm concerned it's not an answer at all..

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Entitlement is part of device OWNERSHIP

Being free of a walled garden is WHY I chose Android - otherwise I'd still be on my trusty old 6230i.

My "sense of Entitlement "as an OWNER of the handset is to be able to install from any source I trust and - where it is a "paid for" app - have it work and deliver the value I have paid for - without having the aggravation of having to jump though hoops each time something in the DRM chain falls over.

The day people like you get to dictate what I can do with my handset is the day your market shrinks to zero and yes - you go bankrupt.

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Alert

entitlement, bah

The day I allow my business strategy to be determined by your unwarranted sense of entitlement will be the day I go bankrupt.

And good riddance to you & your DMCA-wielding corrupt politicians. As far as I'm concerned, using DRM should invalidate your copyright.

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Entitlement is part of being a fandroid

FTFY

So you get all the choice, and the developer of the app gets none? If your choice is between an app that costs £5 and is protected by the developer against copying by using DRM, and a pirated version from a russian app store that costs nothing, you would choose the pirated version and feel morally justified in your decision?

And they say Apple has the reality distortion field.

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WTF?

Re: Entitlement is part of device OWNERSHIP

"Being free of a walled garden is WHY I chose Android"

Ditto, and I don't see how it's relevant to this article. Android already has DRM for paid apps, albeit easy to circumvent.

DRM != walled garden; you can still choose the Amazon store instead of Google Play.

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Anonymous Coward

As an iOS app developer I don't mind at all that jailbreakers (reportedly ~10% of iPhone users) can pirate my app and it's a little easier than actually buying it--at least when you pirate it, you don't have to enter your iTunes password. Ultimately that means that 90% of the iPhone user population is going to pay for my app if they want it, which is good enough for me.

However, when you make pirating software so stupid-easy for everybody such that you just have to copy a file without jailbreaking your phone or anything, then I'm under no illusions that people will buy my app in similar numbers.

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Alert

Re: Entitlement is part of being a fandroid

If your choice is between an app that costs £5 and is protected by the developer against copying by using DRM, and a pirated version from a russian app store that costs nothing, you would choose the pirated version and feel morally justified in your decision?

If you don't like it, give people the option of buying the app without DRM. That would certainly be my first choice.

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FAIL

Re: Entitlement is part of device OWNERSHIP @Ian Yates

Amazon store - Not in the UK you can't

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Happy

Re: Pffft

Ummm... X-Plane works very nicely on my Galaxy S3 :-)

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Silver badge

"if the software is sold, obtaining it without paying is quite simply theft."

Please stop with this line. It is not theft. You loose nothing by them obtaining/using (unless you count a lost sale, which is not always the case). It is a violation of copyright, but it is NOT theft.

However, I do see your point. When I produce software and choose to sell it I expect to be paid. In the end, however, I have to accept that some people will pirate it. Most of those, IMHO, would not have bought it anyway, and those who really value it buy it. They are the customers I want, and I have even found piracy has helped them find me (e.g. a friend has been using a pirated version, they've seen it and bought it)

Piracy is an evil we must put up with, because there are no good solutions to the problem. And if you find you are expriencing low sales, it may be that the sales strategy you are using is not apropriate. Maybe you should try making a free, ad-supported version. Or time limitted demos. Maybe you are charging too much, or the software is not good enough. Maybe your marketting is not up to scratch. Blaming the pirates is not the way to go: They are here to stay, so they need to be factorred in to your business plan.

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WTF?

"Designed for piracy"?

Well there's a libel suit waiting for filing if ever I heard - I mean read - it.

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Boffin

Re: "Designed for piracy"?

I thought it was "Designed for homebrew". Given how the chocolate factory practically gives their SDK away for free and allows anyone to install unencrypted apps on their devices. Comparatively, I have to buy a Mac just to develop my app, and then pay US$99 just to test my own app on my own iPad, when coding for the iOS platform. Google's "designed for homebrew" policy makes it easier for me to test my software and deploy it.

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*If* I can download to multiple devices, what's the problem?

So the downloaded app is put into an encrypted partition, and thus I can't sideload the bits from device #1 to device #2. Got that.

What's the policy on the app store about downloading the app I have purchased *once* directly onto *two* devices? Will the apps I've purchased for my HTC Sensation be available on a Nexus 7 when I get around to buying one?

If so, this seems fine to me. Why would I want to sideload when I can just download from the app store to the new device?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: *If* I can download to multiple devices, what's the problem?

http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-20100093-285/how-to-install-paid-apps-on-multiple-android-devices/

The existing store allows you to do just that - I don't see why it would change.

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Re: *If* I can download to multiple devices, what's the problem?

The new DRM is just to encrypt the local app download to the current device. You'll still be able to download to extra devices and future ones.

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Unhappy

Re: *If* I can download to multiple devices, what's the problem?

Yeah, you can do that. But what about when the developer pulls the software from google play? What about when they upgrade the software and make a mess of it so you end up with somethng that doesn't work or just plain buggy? I've had both of these happen to me.

Without backups you are up sh*t creak, I find it so hard on here to beleive anyone on here would ever think it's ok not to be able to back anything up.

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