The Google Play Store, a popular platform for downloading Android apps has suspended popular Downloader app following a DMCA complaint from Israeli TV companies.
The Downloader app, designed specifically for Android TV devices, faced suspension from the Google Play Store after accumulating more than 5 million installations. A capture from the Internet Archive verifies its popularity prior to the suspension. Google’s suspension notice cited a DMCA complaint lodged by several Israeli TV companies, who claimed that the app facilitated access to the copyright-infringing website SDAROT.
DMCA complaint and the alleged copyright infringement
Elias Saba, the developer of the Downloader app, shared a copy of the suspension notice and expressed his perplexity over the takedown. The DMCA complaint solely focused on the app’s capability to load a website, ignoring its utility as a file manager and web browser. The app doesn’t present or direct users to any website, except for Saba’s own blog, which serves as the default homepage.
Downloader, as described in its app description, enables Android TV owners to easily download files from the Internet onto their devices. Users can either enter a URL pointing directly to a file or sideload the web browser plugin to download files from websites. Saba emphasized that the app functions as a standard web browser and questioned the rationale behind blaming a browser for pirated content.
Saba conveyed his frustration with the takedown through a blog post and a series of tweets. He argued that holding a web browser responsible for the existence of pirated content on the Internet was an unreasonable claim and an abuse of the DMCA. The app developer highlighted the disparity between the treatment of his app and other browsers available on the Google Play Store.
Although the Downloader app was removed from the Google Play Store, it remains accessible through alternative means. Users can still download the app from the Amazon app store for devices such as Fire TVs. Additionally, the app’s website offers the APK file for direct download.
Saba drew attention to the fact that loading a website with infringing content on a standard web browser should have the same consequences as his app’s suspension. He mentioned Google Chrome explicitly and expressed his disbelief at the claim made against his app. The DMCA complaint was filed by a law firm representing HOT Telecommunications Systems, DBS Satellite Services, United King Video, and Charlton.
The complainant and legal actions against the pirate website
According to the complaint, an Israeli court and a US federal court issued permanent injunctions against the SDAROT website, which the Downloader app allegedly facilitated access to. In April 2022, a US District Court judge in New York ordered ISPs in the United States to block SDAROT and two other pirate services. While the blocking order was later stayed, a permanent injunction was issued against the website operator.
Saba promptly filed appeals through the Google Play Console and Google’s DMCA counter-notification form following the app’s suspension. However, his appeal via the Google Play Console was rejected within an hour. As of now, he is still waiting for a response to the appeal submitted through Google’s DMCA counter-notification form.
Saba hopes that public attention and support will influence Google’s decision regarding the suspension of the Downloader app. He reached out to the public, requesting retweets and urging individuals to contact Google through any available means. The app’s suspension has gained traction and was previously reported by TorrentFreak.