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EFF Blasts Apple For Fraudulent DMCA Takedown Of Wiki Page

from the let's-look-at-the-law dept

It's no secret that Apple is excessively protective of the way some of its systems work. That includes trying to stop any other application, other than iTunes, from controlling an iPod. That's a bit of a pain for those of us who like to use alternative apps, such as Songbird. Because of this, there are plenty of folks who work out ways to reverse engineer Apple's system to make this work. Specifically, they need to understand a file called iTunesDB, which Apple tries to prevent others from writing to with a checksum hash. When Apple first introduced the hash it was reverse engineered within a couple days. Apple just recently changed the hash, meaning that it needs to be reverse engineered again. There's a public wiki where a bunch of folks were collaborating to do just that... but Apple sent a DMCA takedown notice to the site.

The EFF has stepped up to walk through the many, many reasons why there's no DMCA violation on the site, and Apple's takedown notice appears to be fraudulent. Yes, the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA do say it's illegal to offer a technology, product, service, device or device to get around DRM, but an open discussion on a wiki is not any of those things. Perhaps more importantly, Apple doesn't own the copyright on iTunesDB. Each iPod makes its own iTunesDB file based on what files they put on their device. The copyright is unlikely to belong to Apple. Next up, reverse engineering is perfectly legal, and the DMCA has a specific exception for reverse engineering. And, finally, the anti-circumvention clause is designed to protect copyright infringement -- but the folks building alternative software programs aren't doing anything for copyright infringement -- they're just trying to make iPods work with their software.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Crabby (profile), Nov 26th, 2008 @ 12:04pm

    If you really don't like Apple's propensities towards total domination of your life, then don't buy their products. Besides, there are plenty of other brands of mp3 players on the market. Buy something else and send a message to Apple.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 12:08pm

    Re:

    By your logic, you could say that if Apple doesn't like their customer's propensities towards using other applications, then they shouldn't sell their products. They should stop selling them and send a message to their customers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Difranco, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 12:39pm

    I really like....

    After having several MP3 players (Cali Rios) / Sony Walkman Phones, I have recently purchased a Microsoft Zune. I really like the software interface as well as the actual device.

    I know Microsoft is another proprietary system, but for now I feel like they got their hardware, software, social networking, and Marketplace right on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Re:

    Why do you think Apple would do that? Are they allergic to money? "Hey guys you know I think we should show our customers who runs this show, and cut off our source of income! What do you say? Guys? Hello?" Pfft. Please, that would be the death of Apple.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    And your point is?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    interval, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Re:

    Never owned an ipud, never will. But people chatting about iPud internals isn't a copyright infringement, so nothing wrong with that wiki either. Just goes to show how apple is just another old-world, backward thinking technology concern, regardless of how "hip" and "with it" they want us to think they are.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Krayol, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 1:30pm

    Awful Apple

    We are all aware of how Apple are terrible suppliers, overcharging drastically for products, demanding that customer use the products exactly the way that they say (and only that way).

    They are quick to attack their own customers if they feel it is profitable (or will save them trouble). In truth, if sheep had money they would be the ideal target customer for Apple.

    They are quick to litigate against anyone, supplier or customer who crosses them.

    The sad thing is that Apple produce much more usable, better designed products than anyone else. Despite the fact that they don't use advanced technology and their products are actually very basic, they have huge margins - due to lack of effective competition? Why? I don't know!

    With Microsoft resources I could design and build an MP3 player that blows the iPlayers away, but the Zune is not that good. Most MP3 players look like the were made by Russia during the cold war - functional, ugly, as far from user friendly as you can get!

    I don't have an MP3 player because only Apple produce decent ones. I will not give Apple my money - it's waiting for a good, open, product to hit the market.

    There must be a supplier that can produce high quality sound, include 16GB memory (£20 worth!) as standard, design a good menu system, and not lock the user out of their own product? Surely?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It would be a joyous day if it occurred.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Mojo, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 3:09pm

    "Think Different With iPod"*

    *use only as directed

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Not Bob, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 5:05pm

    Re: Think different...

    I like that! That's exactly what's going on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 7:50pm

    Apple and Ferrari ...

    ... have a lot in common: an egotistical leader a bit lacking in technical ability, who manages to project an image way out of proportion to the actual technical capabilities and quality of the products.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 8:05pm

    Your headline is terribly misleading by its suggesting that Apple has knowingly done something wrong.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Washii, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 9:09pm

    Re:

    "Your headline is terribly misleading by its suggesting that Apple has knowingly done something wrong."

    Well, the lawyers sending these takedown notices should know whether or not it is right or wrong. If they can't figure out how the terms of the DMCA apply to this legal case, then Apple needs new lawyers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 10:11pm

    Re:

    Oh please... I'm an Apple supporter typing this on my Macbook which I absolutely love, but you've got to be dense and blind to not think Apple knowingly sent that notice to frighten people into removing the content. It is very common for companies to take that type of action because it does not typically cost them to get out of it (low penalties if any).

    We live in a 'sue without reason' world where fraudulent lawsuits are commonplace and big companies throw around their weight to protect their assets and market share. That is normal. They should not be allowed to send such notices without penalty when there is no evidence however, and I really do hope the EFF is able to head this off and possibly take action against it on behalf of the wiki community there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Dan, Nov 27th, 2008 @ 12:51am

    Re: Re:

    Once Apple sells it they no longer own it. Therefore the new owner can do anything he wants with it. If Apple hacks into it they have engaged in criminal conspiracy IE: unauthorized wire transfer, punishable under the RICO act.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Merijn Vogel, Nov 27th, 2008 @ 6:16am

    Apple doesn't own copyright on those database files

    "Perhaps more importantly, Apple doesn't own the copyright on iTunesDB. Each iPod makes its own iTunesDB file based on what files they put on their device. The copyright is unlikely to belong to Apple." Interesting thought, because if it were the other way, then Microsoft would have the copyright of every excelsheet in the world!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    DarcBird, Nov 27th, 2008 @ 6:32pm

    I can't wait for...

    an Ogg Vorbis Player! I know that this doesn't have any DMCA in it and that's why. Does anyone have any idea who I could write to in order to get this to happen?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Nov 27th, 2008 @ 9:36pm

    .....

    You're kidding, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    nasch, Nov 28th, 2008 @ 3:56pm

    Re: Re:

    Rather, if they cannot make their products profitable without exercising an unrealistic level of control over their customers' behaviors, they should change their products. It looks like this is a case of Apple pushing the envelope of how much control they can exert over their customers. The suggestion to buy someone else's products if you want a vendor who doesn't try to do that is perfectly reasonable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2008 @ 1:24pm

    ogg vorbis files are great but honestly who the hell uses them?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Ben VDV, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 1:40am

    The solution is really simple: You don't want to work with iTunes, fine: don't buy an iPod. As long as Apple can keep it's soft and hard closed, at least Apple users can e sure of the quality. Once it gets open, all the crap will come just as with Wintel. Keep up the good work Jobs. :-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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