Google’s Market Licensing System Easy to Crack, Apparently


Google’s hopes to cut back on piracy with the new licensing system they’ve implemented for downloads in the Android market may have already been shattered. One hacker reminds us that there’s no way to keep piracy from happening in any realm of software as he’s gone deep into the code of an app equipped with Google’s new license validation tools.


The process to bypass the system is a bit more involved than your average Joe will care to muck around with (having to work with the bytecode outputted by a .apk disassembler – baksmali.) Even then, it won’t stop a few of those Android piracy sites from learning how to do it themselves in order to keep their “business” going as the licensing method isn’t at all baked in the Android system – developers have to pack it in with the app they intend to use it.

I’ve never been a fan of piracy, so I was glad when Google introduced the new licensing system to try and prevent the crime, but this is just something you have to see coming. There still is no paid market access for many Android users around the world and with that comes the necessity for some hackers to find these exploits  for those that would willingly pay for an app, but can’t.

AndroidPolice has a fully detailed explanation and breakdown of the process.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. I have an always will be a pirate. Pirating apks on android is dum easy. Until it is fixed, developers will become more like Gameloft.

  2. “and with that comes the necessity for some hackers to find these exploits for those that would willingly pay for an app, but can’t” So, you’re saying that if you don’t have a means to pay for something it’s OK to steal it? Can I walk into your garage and take what I want? Just because something can be copied doesn’t mean that a developer didn’t put a lot of effort into creating it and shouldn’t be paid for the work. This is how some people make a living. Piracy is _never_ justified. If you can’t get something, you can’t get it. Sorry. That’s just how the world works.

  3. I never said that. Perhaps my wording wasn’t as clear, but I meant this would be the only way for them to be able to use the app, thus the non-surprising result of someone working toward a hack. Never said it was OK.

  4. “So, you’re saying that if you don’t have a means to pay for something it’s OK to steal it?”

    No that is not what he is saying. This is more like a shiny new store opening in town. And it’s not just a new store, it suddenly becomes the only store. Everybody is going there to get their stuff. When you walk up, however, a security guard turns you away. Now you have no stuff and no way to buy it, even though everybody else is. What are you going to do? It doesn’t really matter what you would do, because a lot of humans would just steal the stuff in such a situation.

  5. Software should be free, that is why I chose to join the Android community. I havn’t or ever will pay for software. It would be like paying for air.

  6. To further the analogy. It is like going to the shiny new store that is the only place in town to get what you want and need. And then the guards turning you away because your house happens to be in a particular neighbourhood. I do not support piracy. But I can understand people being sorely tempted to if no one will take their money.

  7. @Android (4) precisely, though I probably wouldn’t go as far as you did with your explanation, lol.
    @Chinese Factory Worker (5) Software is a good just as anything else is. The only thing you’re entitled to is air, as you’ve stated.

  8. If you can’t afford $.99 – $5.99 for an app then you are living beyond your means, sell your smartphone and get a job… Don’t be a loser and a thief.

    If you have a job and can afford it but would rather steal it, you are a loser and a pathetic thief, get an iphone and join the other losers you p.o.s.!

  9. i knew about this issue myself and done it myself once to test it out. when i really thought about it, a lot of people probably took a lot of time out of their personal life to develop these applications to help Android grow. and i’ve been around since android 1.5 and when 1.6 was an amazing update. even though i’m not that big on purchasing applications, i eventually bought at least 6 applications, and about 4-5 of them i really use.

  10. What about and other such sites? It may not be the case that there is absolutely “no way to buy” a fair number of paid apps.

  11. @Chinese Factory Worker
    let’s say you did something for a change, instead of stealing other’s hard work, and created an application for the android. It took you many hours of labor to create and it’s an amazing product that you can start a business around and make some real money. You know, the kind that will let you move out of your mother’s basement and maybe meet a real life woman besides your mom!

    now, let’s say some lover Chinese factory worker decides they really like your app, but thinks all your time and effort is worth nothing and you don’t deserve anything for all your work. So he steals it and gives it to all his other loser Chinese factory workers. You could have made $1.99 a piece for each of his friends that he gave that to. Good thing you don’t have anything to lose since you don’t have a mortgage to pay or any other bills that require you to make a living.

    But for those of us adults that live in the real world, we know that people deserve to be compensated for their work. If someone makes an app and wants it to be free, that’s their prerogative, if they want $.99, that’s also fine and I’ll honor both. Just because you don’t see the value in something doesn’t mean it’s not there…

    I don’t think you are worth the toilet paper I wiped my ass with this morning… But that doesn’t make it so. Don’t worry, maybe your mom does?

  12. asqwerth, an overwhelming majority of Android applications belongs to “no way to buy” for countries not supported by Android Market.

    I would have no problems paying via PayPal for example – but can’t. I would pay even via Google Checkout – but can’t.

  13. “Software should be free, that is why I chose to join the Android community. I havn’t or ever will pay for software. It would be like paying for air.”

    What about plumbing? Should plumbing be free? Someone has to work to produce either. How is the production of software in a class by itself in that developers should be willing to do it for free?

    NASA pays exorbitant amounts of our dollars for air. Of course, the money goes to the energy, equipment and expertise needed to get the air into space. Should that be free also?

    Just because the raw material is free (eg air, man-hours) does not mean that the results of manipulating those resources into usable products are therefore worthless.

  14. I think @ChineseFactoryWorker is actually a troll, so maybe we dont need to feed him :)

    Besides that, he obviously does not understand economics at all. Wealth, or value, is not “distributed”. It is CREATED. That is the first misconception that people need to get over to understanding economics, and the average person usually doesn’t get that part. It’s not “I need a piece of the pie”. It’s rather, that you create a pie for yourself. That’s what software devs are doing. Creating product from nothing. But it still takes time, and time*is*money. (Even though I HATE cliches)..


  15. Open bootloaders and root access means no way to protect from piracy, stop. If i can change the kernel everything its so easy then, so, piracy will always play its part on Android.

    I downloaded “pirated” apks often, i like to test the app for a week and i don’t like demos, if i like it i download the real one from the market.

  16. “Software should be free, that is why I chose to join the Android community. I havn’t or ever will pay for software. It would be like paying for air.”

    This is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read… I hope you’re just trolling.

  17. Me, haveing rooted my phone and downloaded the marketaccess app are finaly able to buy apps. Using Google Checkout to pay is no problem at all, still there has to be some weird reason why it’s not available to me in Norway yet. maybe something to do with the law.
    I really can’t see any reason for not buying apps. If people want to give you it for free, then thats super, next time you see them buy them a beer, but to be pirating apps worth less than 5$. Just can’t see the reason for it.

  18. Polarbear… there are just some people who just DON’T Get it!

    Now, I don’t agree with stealing app’s, but PIRACY today has taken on a totally different meaning than the HACKER days! Tinkering with locks and getting past them is one thing and I am ALL FOR that! But to take pennies from hard working developers who are basically breathing life into an alternate mobile OS which is totally affordable is not cool! There are plenty of FREE app’s and the paid app’s a completely reasonable, trial period to boot! How could you argue that? These same people will complain when there are no longer any developers writing software for the phones because they couldn’t compensate their time they’ve invested.


    Locks were always made to keep honest people out, the crooks can always get past them if they want!


  19. personally, i feel like google needs more than a 24hr period to make a return.. i pirate software myself but solely for the purpose of an extended try before i buy kinda thing. a week later you might find that the app is buggy or dont meet your needs.. if i pirate something, and it stays on my phone for at least a month and/or gets used regularly then i buy it.

  20. Piracy is when you are not giving the creator compensation for their creation. If you are in an area where you are unable to purchase an app then it is not piracy to copy it. You can’t argue that the creator is losing any compensation as there is no mechanism to provide that compensation. If the developer isn’t happy with that then they need to provide a way to enable getting compensated. Then, and only then, does it become piracy and piracy is wrong!

  21. I have a galaxy s and in india we cant buy apps yet i can only download free apps so unwillingly i have to download pirated apps!If u want to stop piracy then give access to android market everywhere!!!

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