Apple's IP Lawyers May Force YouTube MacBook Repair Videos Offline Over Schematic

from the still-keeping-that-on-the-down-low dept

It’s no secret that Apple does not want you to monkey around with your device’s innards or to take it anywhere but to its own stores for repairs. The company has continually screwed around with the screws that keep its hardware together in an effort to prevent DIYers and non-Apple-approved repair shops from opening its devices.

Now, Apple can’t legally prevent anyone from utilizing third parties for repairs, as explained in this Motherboard article by Jason Koebler. A 40-year-old piece of legislation states companies can’t void warranties simply because the devices have been opened.

What almost no one knows is that these stickers and clauses are illegal under a federal law passed in 1975 called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

To be clear, federal law says you can open your electronics without voiding the warranty, regardless of what the language of that warranty says.

Apple (far from the only offender) maneuvers around this by hinting heavily that you’re fucked if you choose to let anyone but an approved Apple tech crack open your iPhone.

Apple’s iPhone warranty is less explicit, but has this message in bold: “Important: Do not open the Apple Product. Opening the Apple Product may cause damage that is not covered by this Warranty. Only Apple or an AASP should perform service on this Apple Product.” Apple is also known to refuse to service phones that have been opened by their owners or by third party repair professionals.

“May” and “should” are Apple’s hedges against federal law. Apple figures this is enough to discourage people from doing repairs themselves or letting others do it for them. The letter of the law is respected. The spirit of the law, however, is subjected to a series of mean-spirited subtweets.

Apple further funnels repairwork to its own techs by refusing to release schematics and other repair-related info. Various “right to repair” bills are seeking to open up these walled repair gardens, but these have faced heavy opposition from several companies — the same ones that periodically petition the Library of Congress to make repairs/modifications of their products illegal under the DMCA.

So, it’s hardly a surprise that an “unauthorized” repairman would post a video hinting that he’s facing legal threats from Apple for showing people how to fix their own MacBooks. (via Slashdot)

Louis Rossmann’s YouTube channel has been an invaluable source of detailed tutorials for DIY repairs, some of them detailing how to perform component replacements rather than the whole-board approach typically taken by Apple Stores. But in a somewhat vague video posted last night, Rossmann indicates that they may be about to disappear.

While Rossmann doesn’t say so explicitly, he implies that he has received a takedown notice for his videos, and Reddit is speculating that Apple may be behind it. It’s unclear what might form the basis of any takedown notice, though Rossmann does express strong views on Apple’s approach to repairs, and some of the videos do include Apple schematics. We’ve reached out to Apple and will update with any response.

The video is indeed cryptic. Rossmann points out that videos can be downloaded and hints that his channel may not be live for long. He also alludes to “being strong” and ready for a long fight, while noting all of his videos may soon be deleted.

The hints dropped here were enough that Game Revolution ran with the story, but subsequently deleted it when Rossmann provided more information. 9-to-5 Mac, however, kept its story live and updated it with Rossmann’s comments. Apple isn’t going to sue Rossmann or somehow shut down his YouTube account.

Louis Rossmann has posted a follow-up video in which he says that he has been contacted by IP lawyers acting for Apple but is not currently being faced with a lawsuit. He said there is an issue with a schematic, but Apple is said to like the channel.

Rossmann also says the conversation was “friendly” and that Apple’s concern with the schematic was “understandable,” but notes that it’s a holiday weekend and he likely won’t know anything more about the company’s plans until Monday.

This is better behavior than one would expect from Apple, considering its history of making repair/DIY-unfriendly devices. But it also shows Apple is still interested in limiting the amount of repair-related information the public has access to. If it’s trying to keep him from displaying a schematic or using that info to help people repair their own devices, then its legal muscle will achieve the same end, without the collateral PR damage that would come from kicking an “unauthorized” repairman off the internet.

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Companies: apple, youtube

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Comments on “Apple's IP Lawyers May Force YouTube MacBook Repair Videos Offline Over Schematic”

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mcinsand (profile) says:

Apple and Microsoft

If you buy Apple or Microsoft, you know that you’re effectively renting instead of buying. Updates change, terms change, and the user has little choice. These two are among companies that live by the Vader Principle: “I’m altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.”

Either learn to live with it or find another option, and there are plenty out there.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Apple and Microsoft

I think it’s a bit different. You can’t do that with physical hardware regardless of being the Apples and Mictosoftses of the world.

Still, they could claim copyright or whatever on the schematics to make our little monkey ways a tad harder.

Anyway, the ease to monkey around and change whatever the heck you want is what makes me like desktops way more than anything else.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Apple and Microsoft

It may be a bit different today, but not for long.

That’s why we now have IoT. The Internet of Things you no longer own.

It works like this: put a computer into every single item that a human being could formerly own — and poof! — like magic everything has been transformed into something that you really don’t own anymore.

Oh, sorry. The servers for your light bulbs are being discontinued. There will be no more updates for your toaster, but you can buy a new one for 10 % off! Your TV is no longer working on Comcast? Buy a new TV that has support for the new Comcast APIs and protocols. Your car cannot start because you have not performed all of the necessary maintenance from an authorized technician. Please have it towed to an authorized technician to receive the proper servicing. Your home security system is unable to let you in until you renew the annual license. Your sprinkler system needs an updated authorization certificate from your local municipal water system.

Apple is just the tip of the submerged frozen glacial mass.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Apple and Microsoft

And for as long as they are deemed to be only worth what the market says they’re worth, that will continue. Bow before your corporate masters.

Coming soon: Trouble At t’Mill II, 21st Century Edition.

Why aren’t we capable of learning from our mistakes? A rose (or political philosophy) by any other name is still a rose (or political philosophy), after all.

Skeeter says:

Re: Apple and Microsoft

Absolutely Correct! This is what everyone always forgets, they vote with their money! If someone ‘sells’ you something that isn’t a sale, but a ‘rental’, then shame on them for selling it like this. HOWEVER, if you keep doing business with them, then DEAL WITH IT, it’s your foolish fault for choosing to do so, shame on you.
Since the world lives for money, revolves around money, prays for money, the quickest death of a ‘god (of commerce) is to stop sending your ‘prayer money’ to them. Let the demons of bankruptcy take them away. Then again, Apple users are merely paying twice for what Microsoft users only pay for once (double price points), so there’s no accounting for lack of sense to begin with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Wait a sec...

It’s illegal for the company to deny service based off of 3rd party repairs, which does happen often. They can put any sticker that they want on there and warn about how it “may” effect warranties, but can’t stop you from working on it.

It’s a really good article, I read it when it came out on /.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Wait a sec...

According to the article, they can actually be illegal. It mentions a settlement with BMW and links to an FTC page. The FTC says:

the revised Interpretations clarify that implied tying is prohibited. Specifically, warranty language that leads a consumer to believe that a warranty is conditioned on the use of specified parts or service violates the law.

(Caveats: they don’t say whether it’s been tested in court, and I’m guessing BMW didn’t admit any wrongdoing in their settlement.)

AC720 (profile) says:

Re: Wait a sec...

Wait a sec…

Those “warranty void if broken or removed” stickers are illegal?


I’m guessing they’re not actually “illegal”, but rather “unenforceable”, otherwise there’d be a rash of class action lawsuits against companies that put them on their products.

Actually yes, they are illegal. The law -and there REALLY is one- says you can open your stuff. It is illegal to deny support or services because you broke the seal. They may give you a hard time but that’s why they have lawyers sitting around and so should you. Their legal reps will darn well know they can’t forbid this -but not before billing their client for a few hundred hours. Meanwhile your lawyer won’t have to do much beyond writing a letter. Good stuff.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

The Apple II manual came with a fold-out schematic of the motherboard. I had it hanging on my wall as a poster.

The Apple II motherboard even came with a small prototyping area so that you could create your own add-on circuits. (The image on the right is a later revision of the motherboard – the prototyping area is smaller after Apple added more features.)

Imagine how much more successful Apple would have been if they didn’t do this.

Yakko Warner (profile) says:

That third link is a hoax

Your third link, with the text “prevent DIYers and non-Apple-approved repair shops”, doesn’t really support your point. It links to an article about an image of an alleged Apple-designed screw of a proprietary design; but the article states (in an update) that the image was fabricated by a Swedish design company that was experimenting with how Apple rumors spread across the internet.

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