Illegal Books Available For Free On Google’s Android Market

Dozens of commercial book collections, including the entire Harry Potter series, have been downloaded for free from Google’s official Android Market after being uploaded by an unauthorised publisher.

The books were posted to the store this month by an unknown developer named UKER and proved popular with thousands of downloaders, according to AppBrain data.

The apps contain full e-book text but are of poor quality, with clumsy navigation. Titles include Harry Potter 7 in 1, The Girl Who series, The Vampire Diaries, 15 Patricia Cornwell novels and four Stephen King titles. Each contains advertising.

Google (NSDQ: GOOG) already operates its own legal book sales elsewhere on Android Market and in Google Books. But its controls on approval in the main app market are minimal. Previously, it has reacted post-publication to remove apps that include malware, for example, exposing users to mobile virii.

Update: The UKER apps were removed on Monday morning following this story’s publication. Update (Tuesday): Google says: “Applications in violation of our policies are removed from Android Market.” But this reactive moderation highlights a broader issue…

Collections like Harry Potter have appeared and been removed from Android Market in the past, suggesting Google is engaged in a continual post-publication moderation firefight.

Whilst Apple’s pre-publication app approval process is more stringent, it is currently being sued by a group of Chinese writers who claim their titles have been made available through its store without authorisation.

This weekend, Rupert Murdoch used Twitter to brand Google a “piracy leader” for linking to unauthorised copies of entertainment content.

Some of the more popular Android entertainment apps let users search for and download MP3s of pop music tracks from the internet for free.