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Open Source LibreTorrent Client Kicked Out By Google Play


Mach1
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Popular Android torrent client LibreTorrent has been removed from Google Play, who informed its developer that the open-source "Free Software" tool violated the platform's "spam policy". The developer believes this may be due to a flood of abusive cloned copies of LibreTorrent but Google doesn't seem interested in investigating further.

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Broadly speaking, torrent clients come in two flavors; closed source (such as uTorrent or BitTorrent Mainline) or open-source, such as qBittorrent or BiglyBT, for example.

 

Many experienced torrent users often favor the latter, since the code of open-source clients is not only open to scrutiny but can give others the ability to learn about or further develop software. So of course, it’s never great when something bad happens to an open-source project.

 

Yaroslav Pronin, a student and Russia-based developer of Android torrent client LibreTorrent, is an advocate of Free Software. He informs TF that he began work on his tool in 2016 because he believed there wasn’t a “complete freedom” torrent client available for the platform.

 

Pronin says that he was also motivated by the fact that BitTorrent has been under pressure, with sites blocked both in Russia and overseas due to copyright issues.

 

“A Free Software torrent client is an important step in supporting BitTorrent technology for the free (as in Freedom) exchange of information between people,” he explains.

 

As a result, Pronin went down the open-source route (GNU GPLv3) for LibreTorrent and gathered a decent-sized following. But despite all his good intentions, he still found his software deleted from Google Play recently for a somewhat unusual reason.

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LibreTorrent on Google Play before the deletion

What happened behind the scenes here is something of a mystery. Pronin says that he first became aware of an issue in early October when Google advised him that his software had been marked as ‘spam’, which indicates the client is considered “non-original” content.

 

“It was the morning of October 8, 2019, when I read the e-mail from Google that LibreTorrent was deleted. They wrote the reason: ‘Violation of Spam policy’,” Pronin explains.

 

“I was shocked, because I didn’t violate anything of the kind. Therefore, I turned to Google with the first appeal, so that they could clarify the situation, and also figure out that I didn’t violate the spam policy.”

It turned out that Google wasn’t interested in reconsidering its position.

Status of app LibreTorrent (org.proninyaroslav.libretorrent): Suspended from Google Play due to policy violation.

I’ve reviewed your appeal request and found that your app still violates Google Play Policy. During review, we found that your app violates the policy for Spam. We don’t allow apps that spam users or Google Play, such as apps that are duplicative and low-quality.

“As I can think, this was due to the fact that there were many LibreTorrent clones on Google Play and Google just uninstalled all the apps without understanding the essence of what was happening,” he says, commenting on the app’s deletion from Google Play.

 

Pronin informs TorrentFreak that thus far, Google has only responded to him once, informing him of the reason for deletion. He says he sent information confirming him as the developer of the original LibreTorrent but that achieved nothing.

 

“I filed an appeal, but in response I was told that they can not help in any way and the only option is to rename the application and lay it out again,” he explains.

 

Completely renaming an app and losing an established brand seems a draconian measure to force on a developer. Sadly, it may be that other developers who took LibreTorrent’s source and decided to abuse it may be to blame.

 

“Since 2016, a lot of LibreTorrent clones have appeared on Google Play. I understand that LibreTorrent is open source, but those who published these clones on Google Play didn’t modify the source code,” he says.

 

“They only added ads and changed the name of the application. Yes, there were authoring developments based on LibreTorrent, but there are much fewer of them than clones with advertising. Most of the clones were removed last year at my request, but they appear again and again.

 

“Google just decided that LibreTorrent is an application with non-original content, as many LibreTorrent clones are located on Google Play. It’s also possible that the author of one of the clones filed a complaint for the removal of the original LibreTorrent. We can only guess about it.”

 

Pronin is understandably upset and disappointed with Google. He says that the company has made no effort to understand the situation yet, meanwhile, leaves up actually malicious software for download until someone complains.

 

More importantly for him, however, is that with the removal of LibreTorrent, fewer people overall will learn about Free Software. He acknowledges that Google services are both non-free and have privacy problems but getting the Free Software message out to as many people as possible was one of his key goals.

 

It’s also a shame since after a year in development, LibreTorrent 2.0 is almost ready for launch. The source code has been rewritten to increase stability and there are around 20 new features, including an updated UI.

 

Whether Google will eventually relent remains to be seen but in the meantime, anyone wanting to download LibreTorrent can do so here and here.

 

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also can be downloaded from developer  here from repo.

https://gitlab.com/proninyaroslav/libretorrent/-/releases

 

Thats always been a problem with open source   apps on Google they pay cash for apps to use there ADs so it's lots of incentive for people to copy your app on Android and get paid  the ecosystem is so fragmented with junk that 80% of downloads are the top 1% of apps new devs don't stand a chance . Besides  smart people use forums and things to download apps with ads removed and side load them. Google does the same thing they build lots of open-source stuff then re package it with there closed source components and services  and re-brand it with the Google trademark.

 

Were on Linux  there no incentive to clone apps no one is going  use your app with ads because the package mangers want have it  and 9 times out of 10 no one is going install a adware app on Linux  we all get our stuff right from the repos , ppa or the package manger. :yes:

 

Why make and app just for one OS  and not make it for Desktop  too  ?  If you make open source with a name like Libre if you dont make it for Linux too i will never take you serious .  Libre + Google store = Oxymoron :lmao:

Edited by steven36
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If you want to use FOSS programs on Android you need a nice unofficial, FOSS client like AuroraDroid it has guardian project, f-droid, izzy on droid , bromite  and many more and you can even add your own repos like Kodi because using  FDroid all by itself is a mess ,  then you no longer have to get apps from Google unless you want . AuroraDroid even have WhatsApp/Skype/miscellaneous-proprietary-apps too  like Ubuntu  has . Not only do Google ban some apps many open source devs won't use  the Google store, if your a true Foss dev you would not be no how .:P

 

APKPure  is not FOSS it full of ads  they even have cracked [MOD] APKPure (Ad-Free) out there it's  no better maybe worse than using Google  only thing is they carry apps ban by Google but keep in mind many apps Google ban are malware .

Edited by steven36
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