In its enthusiasm to stock its App World shelves, RIM has reportedly inadvertently invited in the pirates, according to Android developers who've said they have seen their work replicated at the burgeoning store.
Android devs said they had seen their apps turning up in RIM's App World despite their lack of interest in the BlackBerry marketplace, or perhaps because of it.
The matter came to light when one developer said he'd received a request for support from someone who'd purchased the BB version of his app, despite the fact that he'd created no such version:
"I figured they were running some kind of Android ROM on their devices," says the reddit posting from the developer. "I asked one of them for his Google account, and he informed me that he only had a BB ID, not a Google account, and that he had downloaded the app from BB App World".
He complained to RIM, and his apps seem to have been delisted, but there are still numerous Android apps which appear credited to new developers on the App World.
The reddit poster is far from alone in his plight. El Reg noted four well-known apps in BB World submitted by one specific vendor. When we emailed the original developers, two of them got back to us within a short period to confirm that the apps were pirated copies. We'll update you if we hear from the others.
According to the developers, pirates are downloading Android apps, stripping out the copy protection (easily achieved by reverse-engineering the Java code) and converting them to run on BlackBerry 10 using RIM's online tool. Once that's done, the devs claim, they can be submitted as "new" apps into RIM's software store, as it lacks the original, and few developers will ever notice.
Other examples abound, though not all are illegitimate. Opera-owned app publisher Handster store, for example, has a contract with developers that allows Handster to port Android apps to BlackBerry and submit them to App World without seeking additional permission.
RIM hasn't got back to us with comment, but told CNet that it was against piracy and would deal with complaints promptly.
The emphasis is therefore again on developers to police their own copyright infringements, just as authors and musicians have to spend a proportion of their time searching for illegitimate copies of their own work. ®