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Website operators plead guilty to distributing 1M pirated mobile apps

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Two distributors of pirated Android apps pleaded guilty this month to federal charges related to copyright infringement, marking the first time that the U.S. Justice Department has secured such a victory against pirates of mobile apps, the organization announced today.

Florida residents Nicholas A. Narbone, 26, and Thomas A. Dye, 21, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement; Narbone pleaded guilty today, while Dye did so on March 10. The two men helped to run AppBucket, a website that, according to federal law enforcement officials, illegally distributed more than 1 million copies of pirated Android apps worth more than $700,000 from August 2010 to August 2012. After an FBI investigation, Narbone, Dye and others were charged Jan. 24.

"These mark the first convictions secured by the Justice Department against those who illegally distribute counterfeit mobile apps," said David A. O'Neil of the Department of Justice's Criminal Division and the Department's acting assistant attorney general, in a press release today. "The Criminal Division has made fighting intellectual property crime a top priority, and these convictions demonstrate our determination to prosecute those who undermine the innovations of others in new technologies."

Sentencing is scheduled for Dye on June 12 and for Narbone on July 8. They each face a maximum sentence of five years in prison.