The Google Play Store suspended an app that combines a web browser with a file manager after a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint pointed out that the app is capable of loading a piracy website—even though that same pirate website can be loaded on any standard browser, including Google Chrome.
The free app, which is designed for Android TV devices and is called Downloader, had been installed from Google Play over 5 million times before its suspension on Friday, an Internet Archive capture shows. The suspension notice that Google sent to Downloader app developer Elias Saba cites a complaint from several Israeli TV companies that said the app “allows users to view the infamous copyright infringing website known as SDAROT.”
Saba provided us with a copy of the suspension notice.
“You can see in the DMCA description portion that the only reason given is the app being able to load a website,” Saba told Ars. “My app is a utility app that combines a basic file manager and a basic web browser. There is no way to view content in the app other than to use the web browser to navigate to a website. The app also doesn’t present or direct users to any website, other than my blog at www.aftvnews.com, which loads as the default homepage in the web browser.”
Saba also detailed his frustrations with the takedown in a blog post and a series of tweets. “Any rational person would agree that you can’t possibly blame a web browser for the pirated content that exists on the Internet, but that is exactly what has happened to my app,” he wrote on his blog.
It’s a “standard web browser,” developer says
Before being pulled from Google Play, the app’s description said that Downloader “allows Android TV owners to easily download files from the Internet onto their device. You can enter a URL which directly points to a file, or you can sideload the web browser plugin to download files from websites.”
“If loading a website with infringing content in a standard web browser is enough to violate DMCA, then every browser in the Google Play Store including @googlechrome should also be removed. It’s a ridiculous claim and an abuse of the DMCA,” Saba wrote on Twitter.
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