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Open Home, Better Keyboard and Better Alarm developer banned from Android Market

If you’ve installed Open Home on your Android phone and you’ve paid for an unlock key, you’ll want to read this. The developer of Open Home – an app that allows you to easily customise your phone’s appearance – Better Android, has had its account suspended by Google.

The account was suspended following what Google deemed to be violations of the Android Market’s Terms of Service. It’s thought that the Terms violated refer to intellectual property infringements of third parties, which are discussed here at points 5.5 and 7.1.

In a blog post, developers Better Android said that “During the life of Open Home (about 2 years up to this point), we have received 2 app suspension notifications from Google for 2 of the skins we published. Since then, we had been really careful about publishing anything that are likely to have copyright issues.”

So far so understandable; When installing themes with Open Home ourselves we noticed a few skins that almost certainly fit the bill here; namely this iPhone-lookalike. Even now, at the time of writing there are things like these Xbox 360 skins in the Market.

Following an initial ban, Better Android played it careful. But even this wasn’t enough:

“We decided to just upload the 3 apps that we are sure have no copyright problems: Better Keyboard, Better Cut and Better Alarm back to the market. In less than 3 days of republishing Better Keyboard, one of our most popular apps, the app had already received over 20,000 downloads.

This morning we finally received an official statement from Google regarding the suspension of our account.”

While we can see grounds for removing Open Home due to copyright violation, removing an entire developer’s account seems a little harsh. Then again, the terms of service state that Google reserves the right to do this. And with legal banhammers flying left right and centre at Android products at the moment,

In the meantime, Better Android is urguing those who had bought licence keys to back up the .apk while it looks for a new home; Amazon Appstore and slideme.org look to be likely destinations at the moment.

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