05 February 2013

Google vs Moon+ Reader: robojustice in action

1. Don't miss the Disclaimer.

2. Sorry for that ugly word (no, not "Google", I mean the "robojustice").

For the users of Android, who like to read books between other naughty things they do, the name Moon Reader (or, to be precise, Moon+ Reader Pro) means quite a lot. For the uninitiated: Moon+ Reader Pro is an application (developed by a single person) that allows to read (or to listen to) e-books in several popular formats. Arguably it's the best app currently on offer. Sorry, the best app that was on offer till very recently (January 31, 2013), when Google removed the app from its Google Play market - the main source of legally developed paid apps, managed by Google for its Android users.

Now, Google, owning the Google Play, surely has a right to remove anything offered via its services, and frequently does so for several reasons: copyright protection, unsuitable contents etc. In this case, however - but I better quote the developer:

A nasty thing happened, Moon+ Reader and Moon+ Reader Pro have been removed from Google Play since 2:00PM 2013/1/31 (UTC-8 Time) because a request email from a Russia company "litres.ru" to Google Play team, Google didn't make any investigation and confirmation, they just removed my reader from the Play directly.

The only reason from litres.ru is, after several steps, a user can download books from my reader, they own the copyright of some books.
And a telling detail:
The litres has its own reader app in Google Play: ....., it's an unfair play.
Just to give you a general feeling of what's happened, a parallel from a non-computerized world. For instance, for WalMart to stop selling reading glasses because you may use them to view/read pornographic contents would be a good one.

The latest communique from the developer brings some good news:
I received apology from Litres. But there is still no any response from Google Play. Any suggestion will be appreciated. Thanks very much for the help from hundreds of thousands of people who step forward.
You could say, that's it then, but hold your horses: the problem is that Google during the last few years succeeded to create, in addition to the usual bureaucratic layer, a semi-automated system of justice that includes a judge, a jury and an executioner in the same nightmarish electronic juggernaut that is almost absolutely opaque. Dialog options are either non-existent or minimal, curbed by a lot of rules and limitations. In short, for a perfect Kafkaesque experience look no further.

For the unfortunate victim of this specific instance of robojustice, the situation means that he will be left without income ($4.99 for each copy of Moon+ Reader Pro) for quite a long period. His means to appeal, as I have mentioned above, are extremely limited and in a lot of attempts will be deflected by one of the many "automated" response system installed by Google. So - again a quote from the developer:
I'm a weak personal developer, I devote myself to this project for years; I and my family live on the revenue from the reader only, here I thank so many warm-heart users, you help me to improve the product, it gets 5,000,000-10,000,000 downloads in Google Play today, and has up to 40 locale languages support, I'm proud for you.

It'll be appreciated if anyone could help me, for anything related to this matter, accuse this type of thing, or contact google for someone who may be helpful to speed up the recovery of my application.
Unfortunately, I don't know how to help the man*, but if you have an idea, please send a word to seanyword at gmail dot com.

(*) I had a run-in with one of the Google branches once and can testify that the experience is Kafkaesque indeed, frustrating to the utmost and not worth replicating. I have surrendered eventually, the continuation of the fight not worth the time, the effort and the tear and wear of my nervous system. But my livelihood didn't and doesn't depend on the good will of Google's cyborgs, thank goodness.

Disclaimer: The author of this post is not in any personal, financial or any other relationship with the developer of Moon+ Reader Pro, and this post reflects solely the author's personal opinion and is not written for financial gain. Moreover, this post, as any other post(s) by this author, is written using good average services and resources of Google, for which services and resources the author remains eternally grateful and, in case of need, will readily denounce this or any other writing of his that is unsatisfactory to Google, blessed be its name.