Moon+ Reader booted from Google Play Store due to questionable piracy claims

Moon+ Reader is a versatile eBook reader for Android which has a customizable user interface, support for a wide range of eBook file formats, an option to sync bookmarks and your last read position across devices using Dropbox, and many other features. It’s one of  the most popular eBook apps available for Android… and this weekend it was pulled from the Google Play Store.

Update: Moon+ is back in the Play Store, and the Pro version is half off during the month of February.

Moon+ Reader

According to posts on the developer’s website, reddit, and other places, it looks like Russian eBook store LitRes.ru complained that Moon+ supports the OPDS protocol which makes it possible to find and download pirated books using the built-in browser.

That’s sort of like saying a web browser supports piracy because you can use it to search for, and download pirated movies or MP3 files.

OPDS is simply a format for cataloging eBooks, and it’s used by eBook catalogs offering free or public domain works including Project Gutenberg, the Internet Archive, and Feedbooks, as well as by pirate catalogs.

It’s likely that Moon+ could be returned to the Play Store after Google  reviews the case — but we live in a litigious world where sometimes it’s safer to agree to a takedown first and ask questions later.

In the meantime, you can still download free or paid versions of Moon+ Reader  from the developer’s website, from the Amazon Appstore, or  from other Android app stores — but the Play Store is the most important Android marketplace around, so it’s bad news for any developer when an app is pulled… whether temporarily or permanently.

There are some other excellent free ebook apps  in the Play Store, including AldikoCoolReader, FBReader, and Fabrik. But Moon+ is one of the most powerful and versatile options available… and it’s certainly not the only one to support OPDS catalogs, which makes the takedown somewhat troubling.

Incidentally, LitRes offers its own Android app — and reviewers are panning it in the Play Store in retribution for the company’s actions against Moon+.

Update: LitRes has released a statement (thanks Nate!) claiming that it took action against three eReader apps (CoolReader, Reader, and Moon+ Reader) after finding what it says were links to pirated websites within the apps… but that after the developer of Moon+ responded and updated the app LitRes has removed its complaint with Google. It could still take up to a month before Moon+ returns to the Play Store though.

Since I don’t have a copy of any of those eReader apps from a few days ago (before this all started), I’m not in a position to judge whether there were actual links to catalogs of pirated books, or just links to legitimate sources of free and paid eBooks.

Anyone care to weigh in?

  • http://twitter.com/mikecane Mike Cane

    This is nuts. Google is acting like the MPAA — which says *Google* enables piracy because it can index sites!

  • http://twitter.com/ethicalfan EthicalFan

    “That’s sort of like saying a web browser supports piracy because you can use it to search for, and download pirated movies or MP3 files.”- Wow. Now were getting somewhere. Yes, web browsers do support piracy! That is why all ISPs work together to maintain a BLACKLIST of sites that distribute spam and all ISPs in the US are supposed to work together to TERMINATE repeat infringers who repeatedly illegally distribute copyrighted material. 17 USC 512 (i)

  • zdanee

    Ah, how I miss the older, simpler times of BBSes, floppies and terminals…

  • Robert Schaefer

    I bought this app a month ago and it is simply the best all inclusive E-reader on the market. I restarted my tablet yesterday and then discovered it was pulled. I called Google and they gave me a refund. You can still buy the app from the publishers website. I’ll be doing this asap.

  • Daniyal Khatri

    App was not blocked because the reader had an opds client built in. This article is not accurate by comparing it with a browser. A better example would be if a browser on installation puts a warez site as a bookmark. Many of these app had builtin opds links to some pirate ebook websites. And I think google was right to block as he is selling his reader app with access to pirated content ie making money of pirated content.

  • pterodactyl

    Really crazy. You have to go through several steps to even find any of these copyrighted files.

  • pterodactyl

    Is there any way we as users can complain to Google?

  • Oleg

    It was about preset ODPS flibusta.net , now deleted from Moon+ Reader.

    • http://www.facebook.com/yutsis Michael Yutsis

      Flibusta was not preset in Moon+.

  • Asbjørn Grandt

    The latest version of Moon+ Reader Pro (1.8.11) does NOT have the link to the pirated site. the about/release notes specifically notes that that sire had been deleted and moved to the Catalogues (user provided links) section

  • Crick Waters

    LitRes – did you contact Moon+ before filing you complaint? I’d like to think that anyone fixing to file a complaint would first contact the object of the complaint ,,,