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What measures does Google takes to ensure that paid apps that are downloaded do not get spread for free? Currently I see a possibility that can leak out a large number of apps:

  1. Someone pays to download an app on his mobile.
  2. Creates a backup of the app.
  3. Gives the backup to friends/ family or spreads it over the internet.
  4. Many people use the paid app for free.

I have not tried this. My Question is: Is it possible? What is the current state of the security measures for the paid apps on Google Play?

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Does it really matter? Most people don't do this and you're unlikely to get more sales by preventing it. –  Brendan Long Oct 24 '12 at 15:26
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up vote 20 down vote accepted

In addition to Martyn's answer on encryption.

This might be a bit on the developer side, however, Google offers Application Licensing:

With Google Play Licensing, your application can query Google Play at run time to obtain the licensing status for the current user, then allow or disallow further use as appropriate.

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You're correct that app piracy in Android is a problem, and it's a reason a lot of app developers have gone for a more in app purchase model, rather than selling their apps on the play market. You're also correct in your method - ripping an APK file off a rooted phone is trivial. Google have recognised this and responded by added App Encryption which will be available for any devices running Jelly Bean and over:

App Encryption

Starting with Android 4.1, Google Play will help protect application assets by encrypting all paid apps with a device-specific key before they are delivered and stored on a device.

http://developer.android.com/about/versions/jelly-bean.html

This means that each app will only be accessible by that device, so the work around you mentioned won't work. I'm unsure about how this will affect devices running any OS before Gingerbread.

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As with all copy prevention schemes, it's safe to assume that this will at best limit the spread of privacy and will not remove it completely. –  Joachim Sauer Oct 24 '12 at 13:25
    
Any encryption is only as strong as the cipher used. –  Martyn Oct 24 '12 at 13:41
    
@JoachimSauer, it will discourage a large percentage, as it's now no lnoger worth the effort to save a buck or two. And for those that still steal it, they wouldn't have bought it anyhow. –  CaffGeek Oct 24 '12 at 13:44
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Will this actually help longterm? The device has to have the key in order to decrypt the app and run it. An app to find the key and use it to create a decrypted APK doesn't seem like it would be too hard for the warez crowd to write and make available to casual pirates to run on rooted devices. –  Dan Neely Oct 24 '12 at 14:06
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@Martyn: that doesn't matter. you already have the key (otherwise you can't run the program). so you already win by definition. And no this wont actually make it harder to pirate the programs (unless you count typing an extra 2 lines in the terminal "harder"). This is just for marketing to encourage dumb developers (that are worried about their worthless IP) to develop for android. –  megazord Oct 24 '12 at 14:41
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