Here’s an audacious plan – package up apps containing old films that you don’t own the copyright to, place them in the iTunes App Store, hope no-one notices and reap the profits while you can. That’s what one enterprising Ukrainian has admitted to in a BBC report today.
“Of course, I do not have any license agreement”, the programmer explains. “This is all very simple. The companies, who can have complaints, submit them to Apple and Apple notifies me that they have to withdraw the application.”
The scam, pulled in this case using classic Russian films that are still in copyright, is understandably frustrating joint rightsholders, Russian film studio Mosfilm and the Joint State Film Collection.
While Apple is reportedly investigating the issue, it’s a little disturbing that the company’s famously strict approvals process can block legitimate apps for minor indiscretions and yet seemingly let copyright infringing movie apps through without a problem.
We searched the Russian app store for the apps in question, which have titles like The Diamond Arm, Kin-dza-dza and Cheburashka to no avail, although if still on sale they may be offered in a Russian script, meaning that they simply don’t show up in our searches.
While it’s not clear if he is the only person responsible for these apps, the programmer that the BBC spoke to has apparently also released an app based around DreamWorks’ The Penguins of Madagascar. He admitted, “I realise that this is wrong… Maybe I am breaking the law.” We’d say that there’s a very good chance of that!