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Cellphones The Courts Apple

iPhone Owners Demand To See Apple Source Code 298

Posted by kdawson
from the you're-a-brick dept.
CWmike writes "iPhone owners charging Apple and AT&T with breaking antitrust laws asked a federal judge this week to force Apple to hand over the iPhone source code, court documents show. The lawsuit, which was filed in October 2007, accuses Apple and AT&T of violating antitrust laws, including the Sherman Act, by agreeing to a multi-year deal that locks US iPhone owners into using the mobile carrier. On Wednesday, the plaintiffs asked US District Court Judge James Ware to compel Apple to produce the source code for the iPhone 1.1.1 software, an update that Apple issued in September 2007. The update crippled iPhones that had been unlocked, or 'jailbroken,' so that they could be used with mobile providers other than AT&T. The iPhone 1.1.1 'bricked' those first-generation iPhones that had been hacked, rendering them useless and wiping all personal data from the device. The plaintiffs say that the source code is necessary to determine whether all iPhones were given the same 1.1.1 update, and whether it was designed to brick all or just some hacked iPhones."
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iPhone Owners Demand To See Apple Source Code

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  • by Kenja (541830) on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:56PM (#30178118)
    So long as we're demanding things we're not going to get, go for broke I say.

    Phones have been hard wired to contracts for years now, the iPhone is only unique in that its popular so people actually care that only one service provider can support it. I'll bet a cookie that the terms of the service agreement let Apple & AT&T do more or less what ever they want with what is legally still their hardware.

    So even if it comes out of all of this that the "bricking" was targeted, I doubt it will change anything in the end.
    • I agree (Score:2, Informative)

      by NoYob (1630681)
      the iPhone is only unique in that its popular so people actually care that only one service provider can support it.

      How true. Anyway...

      Apple did in fact approach the other carriers (IIRC), but they refused to put into their infrastructure the ability for the iPhone to download messages without the user having to dial up for them. The iPhone owners I've talked to really like that feature and it allows them to jump around messages without having to listen to them all from the beginning of the queue - one o

      • I don't know if you're referring to some official bit of information, but the rumor at the time of the first iPhone release was that Apple approached Verizon before AT&T, but Verizon wouldn't agree to Apple's terms. The terms included:

        • No carrier branding on the device itself or the installed software
        • Apple wanted free reign over the product's design and feature set
        • Apple wanted the iPhone to have a small selection of simple plans with inexpensive data service (the original iPhones had unlimited data
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I doubt this happened given that "at the time of the first iPhone release" and, just like now, the iPhone is a GSM based phone. Verizon is CDMA. These negotiations would have had to occur when Apple was designing the iPhone.

          This doesn't invalidate the rest of the terms you describe. But, the iPhone would have needed to be designed for CDMA - you just can't swap out cellular systems like we can with a hard drive. The entire circuit board would need to be redesigned so that it would pass FCC certification

    • Call it fluffheaded fantasizing on my part, but I could envision the much-maligned iPhone 1.1.1 update as being part of a wonderful Trojan Horse attack.

      And no, I don't mean against the industry of hacked or modded iPhones, I mean against the industry practice of locking phones to specific carriers in the first place.

      Yeah, it's goofy, I know, but think about it: for a very long time, the mobile networks have been calling the shots and tilting the playing field their way. Phones would be designed to meet thos

    • by whoever57 (658626)

      Phones have been hard wired to contracts for years now,

      Oh, yes, that's why I have been able to take phones on my family plan and put another carrier's SIM card in them and have them work. Yes, really locked down. The phones were locked when I bought them, but the carrier gave me the code to unlock them at no charge to me.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mysidia (191772)

      Phones have been hard wired to contracts for years now, the iPhone is only unique in that its popular so people actually care that only one service provider can support it.

      Just because phones have been wired to contracts for years, doesn't mean it was ever legal, or that it failed to be illegal product tying.

      It may very well be that it wasn't an issue until now, or there wasn't enough outrage or damage to actually bring the matter to the courts.

      The iPhone is certainly a very unique product compared

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      Phones have been hard wired to contracts for years now, the iPhone is only unique in that its popular so people actually care that only one service provider can support it.

      This seems doubtful - phones have been on contracts, including only one service provider, and things change because the Iphone comes along with 1-2% market share? I don't thinks so.

      The only thing that's changed is that the Iphone stories get publicity. For all we know, this kind of thing has happened with the major players like Nokia, Sam

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MeNeXT (200840)

      I'll bet a cookie that the terms of the service agreement let Apple & AT&T do more or less what ever they want with what is legally still their hardware.

      No it's not. It was sold. So it is NOT their hardware. How hard is this to understand. If you do not wish to sell the hardware make sure that you specify that it is NOT sold, so the consumer is not under the impression that he bought it!!!!!

      I want my cookie now....

    • by jipn4 (1367823)

      Phones have been hard wired to contracts for years now,

      That doesn't make it right. In fact, in many countries, what Apple is doing with the iPhone is illegal and Apple must sell them without a contract, or unlocked with a contract.

      I'll bet a cookie that the terms of the service agreement let Apple & AT&T do more or less what ever they want with what is legally still their hardware.

      Legally? Are you kidding? You paid for the phone, it's yours. Yes, even with a contract, because if you break the co

  • and a pony (Score:4, Funny)

    by commodoresloat (172735) * on Friday November 20, 2009 @05:57PM (#30178152)

    Dear Apple:

    Please also include a pony with the next release of the iphone software.

    kthxbi,

    iPhone owners

  • Let me know how it works out for you-
  • They have to know that they're never going to get the source code. A) It'd be an incredibly earth-shattering precedent, and B) it's beside the point to what they're charging. It doesn't matter of Apple and AT&T colluded to brick one hacked phone, odd-numbered hacked-phones, or even hacked phones on Verizon's network. If the issue is the practice of tying the purchase of an iPhone to the purchase of an AT&T service plan, the source code is not relevant. It's a contractual question, not a technical

    • by nametaken (610866) on Friday November 20, 2009 @06:15PM (#30178440)

      I'm not sure it'd be totally irrelevant. If you'd go so far as to brick my phone as an "f-you" to protect your partners network exclusivity, I'd guess that maybe that's an argument for unfair collusion of the antitrust sort? I am not a lawyer, of course.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MarkvW (1037596)

      "They have to know that they're never going to get the source code."
      While I don't know what they "have to know," I do know that source code does get disclosed in litigation--oftentimes under protective orders to avoid commercial disclosure. The breath test machine cases are an excellent example of this. Copyright cases are another kind of case where this kind of material gets disclosed.

      Saying (in italics) that "the source code is not relevant" does not advance the argument. The test for evidence discover

      • by systemeng (998953)

        I once was subcontracted by a friend to examine source code provided to him under court seal about what I believe had been a software patent case but might have been misappropriation of trade secrets or something similar. The source code was not released publicly, it was just released to my friend who was serving as a consultant to the plaintiff who we will call party A. In my opinion, party A had patented linear interpolation and the whole thing should have been thrown out but that wasn't what the case w

    • They have to know that they're never going to get the source code. A) It'd be an incredibly earth-shattering precedent...

      SCOs lawyers received a server from IBM with every single version that IBM ever produced of the software both companies were arguing about.

  • So, yeah, the iPhone's great and everything, but I don't think Apple has even 20% of the smartphone market. How exactly does an antitrust suit work against a player that doesn't have anything resembling monopoly power in the market in which it operates?

    Not only that -- why exactly would relief by gained by Apple turning over the source to the iPhone OS? Canceling copyright is pretty serious business, there'd better be a pretty compelling reason to do it, both in terms of justifying the cancellation and str

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by db32 (862117)
      There are anti-trust laws dealing with that two company colluding stuff. It isn't far off from the other flak that has been coming up lately over the various exclusive phone deals. AT&T/Apple aren't alone on this and there has a been a surge in complaints about this against all vendors. The anti-trust laws are written specifically to prevent these kinds of things from happening and they are just tap dancing around the laws at the moment with silly excuses.
      • by s73v3r (963317)
        So what's the difference between something like this and say, the G1 only being offered on T-Mobile?
        • by Duradin (1261418)

          Well, you see, Apple is Teh Evil.

          Google,T-Mobile, and the G1 are the most awesomest awesome ever conceived of.

          Well, until they actually gain some appreciable market share and then we must deride them for the very same things we praised them for once we find the next geeky savior of the world.

        • by BobMcD (601576)

          I believe the bricking is the difference. Does Google deliberately brick G1's at T-Mobile's behest to keep them from going to the competition?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      How exactly does an antitrust suit work against a player that doesn't have anything resembling monopoly power in the market in which it operates?

      Probably because, while monopolies are specifically a subject of antitrust law, they aren't the only thing it covers. Antitrust laws deal with a wide range of anticompetitive and unfair practices in trade.

      Not only that -- why exactly would relief by gained by Apple turning over the source to the iPhone OS?

      The demand for the source code isn't as a remedy, its a disc

  • Hahahahaha! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by njfuzzy (734116) <ian@nOspAm.ian-x.com> on Friday November 20, 2009 @06:32PM (#30178728) Homepage
    So... Apple says "Don't Jailbreak your phone" and as one of the reason says "We don't QA test against that". Then people do it anyhow, and updates break their phone (as warned). And those people sue, believing that the bugs that Apple said they couldn't test against were intentional? Funny stuff.
  • Microsoft will produce Windows source code before this happens.
  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Friday November 20, 2009 @06:34PM (#30178752)
    Why don't they instead petition the FCC to force all carriers to only sell unlocked phones in the US?

    Why not force the carriers to offer official unlocks for all currently locked phones?

    I've been making some humble efforts on behalf of my fellow Canadians with Fido and the CRTC.

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=817293 [macrumors.com]

    I was able to get as far as getting a phone call from the office of the president of my carrier Fido. If enough people did the same with their carriers and their country's regulatory body, we might actually get somewhere.

    • by kklein (900361) on Friday November 20, 2009 @08:53PM (#30180432)

      Yes. This is not really Apple's fault. Jobs famously called a meeting of wireless execs who were trying to "sell" him, "orifices." The way that he got things pushed through with the iPhone was by offering an exclusive. If it became illegal to have exclusives, this would be a boon to Apple, because then they could get out from under AT & T and sell to anyone on any carrier. It would be a boon to every handset manufacturer.

      The issue here is not Apple or the iPhone or even AT & T; it's the US's ridiculous lack of regulations on this market (same thing in Japan, where I live, though). The carriers need to get the hell out of the handset market and just do their damned orifice jobs. They want to be retailers, but they are very obviously utility companies. This and net neutrality are basically the same thing: Utility companies aspiring to be retailers or content companies. They need to be smacked down as the knuckle-draggers they are.

  • It would save these Big companies (Apple, Microsoft, Sony, etc) a lot of grief from the public if they would just say that you are leasing the hardware and not buying it! Selling it to you give one the impression that you can do whatever you want with the hardware. Which is not the case. They produce the hardware and want to control how is used for the life of the device. Which they want to control as well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by coolsnowmen (695297)

      I don't own an iphone, but I know I signed no such licensing agreement when I bought my xbox360. I'm betting if MS actually bricked xbox360s they'd be in a lot more [legal] trouble.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As the owner of a copy of Twilight I have the right to see her naked. My friends and I plan to file a class action lawsuit against the makers of the movie and Miss Stewart. As film owners our rights are being ignored and we won't stand for it!

  • The source code was leaked, unfortunately it's not too exciting:

    // config.h
    #define BUILD_FOR_IPHONE
    #define CPU_ARCH ARM

    // ...

  • ... any different?

    Even if HTC offers the same model to another carrier, they aren't offering the SPRINT one. And in line with that is the limit to Spring. I cannot use it on another network if I choose. I am forced to exclusively use my hardware on a Sprint network.

    Anti-trust crap happens all day all over the place. It is almost funny to see how few of these blatant offenses to competition actually get pursued.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by joocemann (1273720)

      In response/support to what I was saying, a true competitive market is as this:

      Some companies make phones

      Some companies offer service

      That's it. The europeans do it well. I loved it when I lived there. My phone had a swiss number, a german number, and an italian number. All depending on which SIM card I put in it. I paid for minutes and texts as I used them.

      Why oh why is the american business model becoming "do as much anti-trust as you can, abuse the consumer, and pay penalties if you're caught".

      WHY?

  • by BlueBoxSW.com (745855) on Friday November 20, 2009 @07:47PM (#30179698) Homepage

    Really? You need the source code to determine the phone was locked into a carrier?

    How about reading the service agreement.

  • So, who is going to review the code in this closed process? The judge? :) Hehehe... I can see him now powering up is new Mac Book pro, reviewing the source code and exclaiming "There it is... the smoking gun!"

    In all seriousness, how would they manage this process? Would the plaintiff and defendant hire expert programmers to comb through the code looking for evidence? Would it then be presented to the judge and he would decide? Would he even know how to decide?

    I can see it now - "Your honor, you can clearly

  • by NetShadow (132017) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:09PM (#30180608)

    I know it's cool to hate Apple these days, but seriously, get the facts first...

    The people who had 1.1.1 phones "bricked" were people who had unlocked their phones with the original (buggy) version of AnySIM that subtly corrupted the seczone where phone locks and IMEI were stored. It was corrupted in such a way that it wasn't obvious until the baseband was upgraded to the next version (which occurred in 1.1.1) where things totally stopped working.

    Apple never deliberately tried to break anyone with an unlock, it just so happens that the unlockers had damaged their seczones and prevented the update from being applied cleanly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Apple never deliberately tried to break anyone with an unlock, it just so happens that the unlockers had damaged their seczones and prevented the update from being applied cleanly.

      The *entire point* of this story is that they want to see the source code so they can discover if that's the case or not.

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