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Earlier, I came across a question that suggestively implies altering an existing Android APK without source and attempting to put AdMob into the APK.

There are notions of striving to be as ethical as possible without encouraging bad behaviour by posting an answer which would imply or hint that the answerer is in favour of supporting such unethical means.

How would this be dealt with?


After reading Zuul's answer I started reading the StackExchange's Terms and Conditions.

This part and I quote:

Subscriber represents, warrants and agrees that it will not contribute any Subscriber Content that (a) infringes, violates or otherwise interferes with any copyright or trademark of another party

I must add I am not a Lawyer IANAL either, but using my intelligence and common-sense on the basis of interpretation

(c) infringes any intellectual property right of another or the privacy or publicity rights of another

This was under section titled "3. Subscriber Content"

This is my interpretation - posting a question (Subscriber Content) by the OP (Subscriber) is clearly in violation of this?

The OP clearly did not answer that he did in fact, not have the source code available.

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While ethics/law is generally outside the expectations of moderation on these sites, you'll find these questions are often Too Localized...hint hint – Ben Brocka Aug 18 '12 at 2:09
@BenBrocka : Cheers for the hint :) – t0mm13b Aug 18 '12 at 12:06
@BenBrocka You'll find that people use a non-applicable close reason to hide their unjustified closure, but that's no reason to imitate them. – Gilles Aug 18 '12 at 13:59
Thanks @BradLarson for that :) – t0mm13b Aug 18 '12 at 16:21
@Gilles unlike simple copyright cases, this is a situation where no developer is going to need to put admob into a compiled APK. Any real developer of the actual project would be working with the SDK, which would be a real, not too localized use. – Ben Brocka Aug 18 '12 at 17:06
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The very essence of the Stack Exchange Network is to deal with Questions and Answers, so, generally speaking, if a user asks a question, I see no reason not to answer it, AS LONG AS, the question obeys:

All remaining considerations are on a personal level, and if one feels that he shouldn't answer, so be it.

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Have accepted this answer as the best. – t0mm13b Aug 18 '12 at 18:05

There are valid reasons for wanting to know the binary structure of programs and possibly alter them as well, at least for learning.

It may actually even be allowed in some jurisdictions to alter binaries. That is the case in Sweden, where "making a computer program work as intended" is allowed by copyright law.

Adding AdMob to an existing APK does not sound like one of those valid reasons, though. I propose closing as "Too Localized" or at least leaving it unanswered if you are uncomfortable answering it.

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Altering an application when you don't have the source is not necessarily unethical or illegal. In fact, in many countries, the law goes out of its way to make it explicitly legal in certain circumstances: in Europe, reverse engineering is always permitted (and license provisions forbidding it are void) for the express purpose of interoperability. I believe this is not the case in the US (the jurisdiction where Stack Exchange is located), but this is a civil matter: only the license holder is entitled to act, third parties are not. If someone asks how to reverse-engineer your product, you may contact Stack Exchange (see the contact link at the bottom of every page), but as far as I know, they are not obligated to take any content down without a court decision. (If there is a DMCA violation, this is a different matter, and if it's your intellectual property that's concerned you should follow the DMCA takedown procedure, but the DMCA explicitly allows circumvention for the purpose of interoperability).

Please avoid nasty comments like “you shouldn't do this, if you don't have the source you don't have a right”. Reverse engineering is not intrinsically unethical, and all you'll do is rake up arguments with other people, some of who hold that preventing reverse engineering is unethical.

Closing the question you cite as “too localized” doesn't make any sense. The question would help any other visitor faced with the same problem or a similar problem (modifying the same application, or even some other Android application), just like any other question. This specific question, the way it is as I read it, should probably be closed as “not a real question”, however, because the asker didn't explain at all what he did to “intergrate the Admob sdk”. If he had done so, the question would be perfectly fine.

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While I agree with what you have said, though, if I asked in the comments for clarification, to say, which btw was pretty neutral and not nasty either, "So you're telling me you don't have the source", now, in fairness, if the OP took the time to post the question, then the OP should have the time to clear up any mis-understandings - hence the comment was left unanswered, sure they might have their reason not to do, then again, if the OP answered to my comment, then I would not have opened a meta discussion! – t0mm13b Aug 18 '12 at 14:04
@t0mm13b I wasn't attacking you, your comment isn't nasty (I have seen such nasty comments — my example isn't a quote, but it's close, from memory). Your comment is a bit pointless, it's pretty clear that the asker is working on the apk by design. It might be seen as rude (though I don't consider it so), because it looks like a rhetorical question with the implication that the asker is doing something wrong. (Well, he is doing something wrong, but by not giving enough information, not by not having the source.) – Gilles Aug 18 '12 at 14:09
oh - am sorry if my comment has offended you, no, I did not feel that you were attacking me nor offended either... no! :) its the timing of the delay in the OP in posting a question, and between my "pointless comment" I guess is what roused my "suspicions" ... really :) – t0mm13b Aug 18 '12 at 14:13
Altering the APK may not be illegal, but making money off of someone else's work (the only possible reason for adding admob is to profit) clearly is. – Ben Brocka Aug 18 '12 at 17:04
@BenBrocka Making money off someone else's work is not illegal, and it's a time-honored way of making money, but it may be unethical. I don't know what admob is (though I can take a guess from the name), and it's probably not something I'd care to do nor something that falls under interoperability exceptions, but that doesn't necessarily make it illegal. – Gilles Aug 18 '12 at 17:11
@Gilles Have had to un-accept this answer as per your last comment which I do not agree with, BenBrocka is 100% correct and I agree with his sentiment. And am mind blown that you've not heard of AdMob despite answering 6 questions tagged with Android. – t0mm13b Aug 18 '12 at 18:09

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