“That new app on Google Play looks awesome!  Oh wait…it costs $2.99…no problem, I’ll just search for the APK and sideload it.” It is that kind of attitude that has lead to the loss of over $63.4 billion in software revenue in 2011 alone….and people wonder why the economy is struggling so badly.

Many think there is no harm in downloading paid software for free. Some might even convince themselves it is ok because the cost is not worth the value. No matter what excuses the devil over your shoulder has you spewing, piracy is an act of robbery and is illegal in all forms, just as it was in the 1600’s (arrrggg).

This epidemic started with computer software and worked its way up to gaming system games, and finally, to mobile phone apps.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recognized the threat and launched a full out attack on pirated mobile apps.

Three well known mobile app sites shut down last week due to their violation of copyright infringements. For pirates who frequent applanet.net, appbucket.net, and/or snappzmarket.com, the FBI has left a nice warning for you, reminding that piracy is a crime and is punishable with prison time and a $250,000 fine.

In the case of illegally distributed software, the openness of the Android platform can be a downfall. Applications, including paid apps, can easily be taken apart and redistributed for free, without anyone being the wiser. This can also open the way for added malware, which we have seen an increase of lately.

Prior to the crackdown on these app sites, the FBI through down the gauntlet against MegaUpload.com, a widely used file sharing site. Unfortunately, the site was not all bad, and was used by many app developers as a way to distribute their own software at no cost. The closure left them to finding other means to share their work and many are now using dev-host.org – a free file hosting site for developers.

What it really comes down to is the money YOU are taking from hard working developers by stealing their work. The Android community has essentially been built on a “sharing and caring” philosophy. Without the work of these developers, our devices would be utterly useless. Many devs offer a free version of their apps and in turn, they ask for support by making paid versions as well.

Users from the G1 days are always quick to reminisce of the old days when the spirit of sharing was at its highest. Many beloved developers have lost the zeal they once had thanks to one eyed thieves. Who can blame them, with over half of the internet stealing their work instead of paying for it?

The moral of the story is simple – don’t be cheap! Most apps cost less than $5 each, which most likely will not break the bank. If you don’t quit your evil ways, who knows – you may be the next faced with a hefty fine and a fear of dropping the soap.