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So I made an app and I am planning on releasing it, the app contains in app purchases (so users have to pay from inside the app). Now the thing is that when someone pays for a product in my app I will receive money from google after a certain period of time to my bank account.

In my country we must prove the source of the income after a certain amount of money is received (a few thousands of dollars). So there might come a day when the bank will ask me: why google is sending you money? Now if I told them that I have an app on the google play store that is making money and google sends them to me. They might ask me to prove that I am the owner of this app.

So the question is:

1) How do I prove to them that I am the owner of the app?

2) How to protect an app by law? Should we?

Thanks all.

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  • Your Google dev account statement showing purchases should be sufficient.
    – Greendrake
    May 25, 2019 at 8:06
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    You could also go and talk to the bank about this. Ask them what evidence they would require. May 25, 2019 at 10:00
  • You have to provide the source of income. Isn't that just "Google"?
    – gnasher729
    May 25, 2019 at 20:53
  • @Greendrake so developers must not register the app and protect it by law? Just the fact that I have the developer account proves that I own the app?
    – data
    May 27, 2019 at 6:46
  • @data No it only shows why Google is sending you money. If your bank is satisfied by that, why would you still need to prove that the app is yours?
    – Greendrake
    May 27, 2019 at 6:51

1 Answer 1

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I think you have two separate concerns here.

Proving ownership

Surprisingly, money laundering is actually a concern here. Amazon books have been used for money laundering, and an app could in theory be used the same way. You should talk to your bank about their requirements, but as long as your app is sold for a modest amount and you have a lot of different customers there should not be a problem.

The bank won't want evidence that you own the app. Its like when you sell your car; your bank doesn't need evidence of title to the car before it accepts your cheque. If the authorities in your country ever do require evidence then you can show them your source code; only the author of the app would have that. If you are really nervous then get an account on GitHub and use that as a repository; in addition to creating an external backup of your source (always a good idea) it also creates an audit trail with a third party showing the development history.

Protection

Your basic protection for the app is copyright. You automatically own the copyright on your source code and the executables generated from it; no paperwork required. If you use other software (e.g. software libraries) in your app then you should make sure that you have an appropriate license to do so. This is mostly a concern when a library is covered by the General Public License (GPL). Most other open source licenses allow you to incorporate a library in a proprietary product. You should make a list of all software libraries you use and check the license terms for each.

If someone tries to claim ownership of your app then it will depend on their reasons. Your review of the licenses is to make sure that nobody has a valid reason to claim ownership.

If someone tries to steal your app then you would get a lawyer and use copyright law to shut them down. Also Google probably has some mechanisms along the same lines.

Update for follow-on questions

I don't speak Arabic so I can't check the details, but this article suggests that the Lebanese law is basically in line with the rest of the world. Check the copyright office website for the conditions, but I would expect that you should be able to lodge the entire work including media files as a single entity. The article I referenced says that:

Lodging of a work, sound recording, performance or radio or television program at the Copyright Protection Department at the Ministry of Economy and Commerce is deemed evidence of ownership of a work, albeit non-conclusive and rebuttable (Article 76).

That means that if you register the work you will be presumed to be the owner unless someone comes along with evidence to the contrary. I would expect that if you don't register the work then you can still prove ownership by other means. Whether this is worth the fee is going to depend on the circumstances under which you need to prove ownership.

The nightmare situation would be if someone tries to steal your app by registering it in their name. This would be a crime, but until you could get it sorted out you might have problems with selling the app, as Google is likely to believe the registration and ignore your protestations.

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  • Thanks Paul this is the best answer and covers everything I needed to know, so basically to protect the app I can register all my code to a copyright office in my country, so if someone copied my app I can bring a lawyer and win in court?
    – data
    May 27, 2019 at 9:13
  • And if I use images and videos in my app I also have to copyright them with an office, the name and the logo of the app I guess with a trademark law are done?
    – data
    May 27, 2019 at 9:14
  • Third party software in my app if they are MIT or Apache I can include the license somewhere in my app.
    – data
    May 27, 2019 at 9:15
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    @data In most countries copyright is automatic, but to get damages you may need registration. Check the rules for the country you are in (and it would help to tell us what it is). You should be able to register your entire app as a single work. Trademark is separate from copyright: check the law in your country and ask here if you don't understand anything. On 3rd party software, sounds like you are on top of it. May 27, 2019 at 11:41
  • I have a question: as the app is made up of multiple files and each file is made up of many lines of code. So you mean in the copyright registration office I provide all these files as a single work and pay once? But if my app includes video files then these files are included also or have separate registration?
    – data
    May 27, 2019 at 12:47

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