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Apple Asks Judge To Shutter Psystar's Clone Unit 346

Posted by Soulskill
from the say-goodnight-gracie dept.
CWmike writes "Apple wants a federal judge to shut down Psystar's Mac clone operation and order the company to pay more than $2.1 million in damages, according to court documents. The move was the first by Apple since US District Court Judge William Alsup ruled that Psystar violated Apple's copyright and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act when it installed Mac OS X on clones it sold. Alsup's Nov. 13 order, which granted Apple's motion for summary judgment and quashed Psystar's similar request, was a crushing blow to the Florida company's legal campaign. In a motion filed Monday, Apple asked Alsup to grant a permanent injunction that would force Psystar to stop selling any computer bundled with Mac OS X; using, selling or even owning software that lets it crack Apple's OS encryption key to trick Mac OS X to run on non-Apple hardware; and 'inducing, aiding or inducing others in infringing Apple's copyright.'" Groklaw has summarized Apple's request as well, and noted that Apple has also filed a motion to dismiss Psystar's litigation in Florida (or transfer it to California, where the above injunction was filed).
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Apple Asks Judge To Shutter Psystar's Clone Unit

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  • Once again (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 26, 2009 @02:09PM (#30238454)

    Cue all the replies from people who think they should have the right to install software from a company onto any piece of hardware they want.

    Apple sells systems. In the old days, nobody would even think about separating the software and hardware of an Atari, Apple, Amiga or Commodore computer.

    The more you guys push to "free" Mac OS X, the more you guys risk of seeing the opposite laws being written, giving HP, Dell, Acer and others the ability to sign exclusive contracts with Microsoft. No more unlocked computers, no more OSS. Be very, very careful what you guys wish for.

  • Re:Once again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by erroneus (253617) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @02:29PM (#30238616) Homepage

    I too found that argument incredulous. Reading software into RAM is how programs are accessed. In fact, the software in question causes this action to happen! Apple should be suing themselves on this basis. I can't begin to imagine what was going on in the mind of the judge who ruled in favor of that argument other than being incapable of understanding that copying code into memory is part of how execution of said code is done in EVERY single case of software execution... (please, no comments related to punch cards, ROM or similar technologies. This is about software that is for sale and run on home computers.)

    More and more, special exceptions are being made for software. If this were a case of someone buying a hardware device and connecting it to some other hardware device, these proceedings wouldn't be happening. Someone needs to define for once and for all that publishers cannot tell people how they can or should access the copyrighted material that was legally purchased from the publisher.

    On the box of nearly ever food product on the shelf of a grocery store is a "serving suggestion." Imagine their being able to enforce that serving suggestion in a court of law.

  • Re:Once again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Stuart Gibson (544632) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @02:43PM (#30238738) Homepage

    Every other company also makes 5% margin compared to Apple's 30%*, Should Apple also cut their margins to be with the cool crowd?

    *figures pulled from ass, but not far from reality.

  • Re:Once again (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WCguru42 (1268530) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @03:03PM (#30238868)

    Cue all the replies from people who think they should have the right to install software from a company onto any piece of hardware they want.

    Out of interest where does, Microsoft Windows, Dos, Ubuntu, Photoshop, Autocad, Proteus, MS Office, Skype, All Games and just about any software I can think of come into this picture?

    I guess it's because those companies don't have those provisions in their license agreements. From my perspective it would be detrimental to their business models to place those kinds of restrictions on their products. For Apple it helps their business model and therefore they have included that into the license. You can argue that it might be worthy of anti-trust, might not be the best business model (though evidence points to it being highly effective) or anything else you can think of. The fact that nobody else does this does not mean that it can't be done, just that those other parties haven't found it to be a worthwhile business idea.

  • Re:The way I see it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Thursday November 26, 2009 @03:05PM (#30238886) Journal
    So was it wrong when Compaq cloned the IBM BIOS?
  • Re:The way I see it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cheesybagel (670288) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @03:13PM (#30238940)
    Apple has already shut down manufacturers which made better MacOS compatible hardware than they did. Power Computing [wikipedia.org] and UMAX [wikipedia.org] used to make better MacOS hardware [wikipedia.org] than Apple did. Power Computing, for example, had faster hardware than Apple itself. One of the first things Steve Jobs did when he returned as CEO was to shut down the clone market by pulling the plug on licensing. I guess one of the things he learned from running NeXT [wikipedia.org] was that there was little money to be made in a niche software OS business. NeXT's move to a pure software based business model around OpenStep [wikipedia.org] was its own undoing.
  • Re:Once again (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @03:22PM (#30239012)

    much as TRS-DOS would be restricted to Radio Shack hardware.

    TRS-DOS wasn't restricted to Radio Shack hardware - It ran on any of the TRS-80 clones, like the LMW-80. Most people ran 'better' OSes like NEWDOS, but if memory serves (and granted it was nearly 30 years ago) there was nothing preventing you from running TRS-DOS on a TRS-80 clone.

  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @03:41PM (#30239130)

    It's still inane. I argue this is similar to time-shifting. If they paid for the copies, who cares where they install them?

    You can argue as much as you like, but Judge Alsup didn't agree with you. Mostly because that is not what happened.

    Psystar paid for boxes with MacOS X and a license that allows installation on one Apple-labeled computer. They shipped their computers with these _unopened_ boxes. Whoever bought one of their computers now has a box with MacOS X which they can install completely legally on any Apple computer. Clearly these boxes have _nothing_ at all to do with the software that Psystar installed on their computers. Actually, the court saw evidence that the software in the boxes and the software installed was not the same. Psystar didn't even bother to argue in court that they bought boxes with MacOS X. Had they bought boxes with Windows 7, or boxes full of popcorn, it would have exactly the same legal effect - none whatsoever.

    Let me say that again: Psystar bought boxes with MacOS X and sold them on. If you buy MacOS X and sell it on, then there are no rights that stick with you.

  • Re:Once again (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 26, 2009 @03:49PM (#30239184)

    Every other company also makes 5% margin compared to Apple's 30%*, Should Apple also cut their margins to be with the cool crowd?

    No, but that does indicate that there's something wrong.

    All the people who defend Capitalism and Free Market often quote how it is a better thing for consumers than lots of regulation. It's true, when lots of competition exists. Ever questioned why that is? Hint: it's not because companies get a high profit margin. On the contrary, it's because prices approach marginal cost [wikipedia.org]

    A high profit margin indicates there's something wrong with the market, in the form of not enough competition. In this case, it's particularly bad, because the lack of competition is not due to others not wanting to get in the market, but due to government protecting Apple's market in the form of enforcing EULAs in court. If you buy Mac OS X, they should have no say what you do with it.

  • Re:The way I see it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@NoSPam.barbara-hudson.com> on Thursday November 26, 2009 @05:29PM (#30239808) Journal

    Apple isn't doing an after-sale tie-in. You don't *have* to ever upgrade your computer.

    What they're doing is saying that when you buy a software upgrade, here are the terms and conditions. If they offer the upgrade and they also offer a different SKU as a bare install disk, then they shouldn't be allowed to say what hardware you can run it on, but that's a different story. In psystars' case, they were acting as retailers, not end-users. I don't think apple cares if the end user makes themselves a hackintosh, but they don't want competition in the hardware segment.

    Is what they're doing anti-competitive? Yes. That's why they're using trademark and copyright law, not saying "this is illegal because we control the hardware." Or they're exporting the Steve Jobs RDF. At this point, who gives a crap?

    After all, if you don't want Windows, you can get linux, you can get bsd, you can get menuet, and a bunch of other freely available operating systems. You want OSX? Then help someone make a works-alike port of Cocoa and Carbon and Aqua and IOKit - or go play around with this [puredarwin.org], or any one of a number of things.

  • by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @05:52PM (#30239924) Journal

    I'm not sure why these smaller companies keep trying to take on the big boys, though, when they know they'll get crushed, like a nut.

    Check out the Groklaw article [groklaw.net] on the case. It appears that getting sued by Apple was part of Psystar's business plan from the get-go. They actually marketed the idea to VC outfits as a reason to invest in the company.

    What Psystar was more than anything else--certainly more than a computer manufacturer--was a case of investor fraud. Standby for shareholder lawsuits in 3...2...1...

  • Re:The way I see it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by _merlin (160982) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @06:03PM (#30240008) Homepage Journal

    Prove that they weren't less reliable. You sound like someone who never had the dubious pleasure of dealing with these machines. It's personal experience, but every Power Computing and UMAX machine I ever had to deal with needed a new PSU within a year. The cheap RAM they used often failed within a few months. They were a pain to take apart, too - sharp edges everywhere. You get what you pay for.

  • Re:Apple is .. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Spatial (1235392) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @06:55PM (#30240374)
    They're amoral, not evil. Almost all companies are, especially large ones.

    Their criterion for taking action is solely this: Does the end result garner more profit than inaction?

    Moral, ethical and legal concerns are irrelevant provided that this condition is met. They usually appear to follow those guidelines, but only because failing to conform costs a great deal of money. Be it through a PR disaster decimating sales, a heavy fine, or other penalty.
  • Re:It's ok (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dontmakemethink (1186169) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @08:05PM (#30240968)

    Interesting choice of example, since Logic is Mac-only for the sole reason that Apple bought eMagic. Prior to that Logic was also available for Windows. The windows Logic users were left high and dry with no further updates or support whatsoever. Think about it - Logic for Windows was a $399 piece of software. It was also rather unorthodox, leaving users to learn entirely new audio software. Very few were of a mind to buy a Mac I assure you.

    I find it ironic that a Mac user would be proud of Apple for some of its most anti-competitive behaviour, especially in this thread of all places. Apple quashing Psystar is completely legal and IMO justified, but it's nothing to be proud of.

  • Re:The way I see it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by StuartHankins (1020819) on Friday November 27, 2009 @12:05AM (#30242426)
    It was fairly widely known that these cheaper machines skimped on parts, support etc but the market for these machines (while they existed) was the cutthroat commodity market, much like today's PC industry. Caveat emptor and all that.

    And yes, they caused some degree of confusion with consumers and hurt Apple's image, even though they weren't Apple products.
  • Re:Duh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday November 27, 2009 @07:29AM (#30244416)
    The phrase you're looking for (in UK law) is the "Golden Rule." It's one of the methods of interpretation of law, alongside "Literal Rule" and "Mischief Rule". The Golden Rule looks at the strictest wording of the law as applied, and decides if it leads to an absurdity. If that is the case, it is within the power of the Judge to re-interpret the law along the lines of how Parliament would have expected it to be understood. Having a piece of shrink-wrap plastic around a DVD being the centrepoint of how this law is interpreted seems to me (non-lawyer) as an absurdity.

    Alternatively, the Mischief Rule allows a Judge to decide if an action sufficiently similar to the law in question, but not specifically covered by the law, is still a breach of that law. A man standing in a flower bed using a stick to steal car keys on a hook is not technically guilty of burglary (you must enter the property to commit a burglary). However, under the Mischief Rule the Judge can say that the tool was used under his control to commit the act, purely as a means of convenience, and say that without the stick the defendant would have to enter the property to perform the same action. Therefore stealing the keys from inside the property with the stick is still birglary. Same thing here; S/He can say that the EULA stipulation and firmware requirements are to prevent the use of the software on unsupported hardware which may affect the end user experience to the detriment of Apple's image. Therefore the technicalities listed as allowing Pystar to legally create their products do not apply.

    IANAL, blah blah. Opinion with a little knowledge.

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