Will Psystar Represent A Key Case Concerning Enforceability Of EULAs?

from the let-the-lawsuits-begin! dept

A few weeks back, a company named Psystar made some news by offering to sell PCs with Mac OS X installed. This raised questions about how legit this offer was. After all, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple years back, he killed off all licensing deals that allowed any kind of Mac clones. However, the company has been showing off the clones it's created. Now, the questions are all about whether or not Psystar's actions are legal. The company (of course) says it is legal, and that it's buying a legal copy of the operating system and installing it on PC hardware. However, the end user license agreement (EULA) includes the following:
"This License allows you to install, use and run one (1) copy of the Apple Software on a single Apple-labeled computer at a time. You agree not to install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-labeled computer, or to enable others to do so."
That would seem to preclude what Psystar is doing. The News.com article above does an excellent job laying out the legal issues here. While the courts have found various clickthrough EULAs enforceable (even though no one -- including the companies themselves seem to read through them), it's possible that Psystar could attack the EULA from other directions. As the article notes, it could try to use the first sale doctrine (which allows you to resell copyrighted products you've bought) but that likely won't fly. What may be most effective (even if it's still a long shot under the law) is to claim that the EULA illegally "ties" the software to Apple's own hardware. However, making a claim about tying is quite complicated, and it seems unlikely that Psystar would prevail. This seems unfortunate for the market -- as getting some additional competition into the market would only help drive innovation. But, under the current law, it's difficult to see how Psystar can win.

Filed Under: apple os, eulas, first sale, license agreement, tying
Companies: apple, psystar

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  1. icon
    chris (profile), 5 May 2008 @ 11:49am

    you guys, including jobs, are missing the point

    the reason windows sucks is it has to support arbitrary hardware with poorly written drivers.

    limiting the hardware platform is how companies like sun microsystems can deliver super reliable systems. they control the hardware and the software and should make money off both. macs are seriously expensive compared to PCs, and sun hardware is ridiculously expensive compared to macs.

    a mac clone made from more or less commodity parts is not going to be the same as a real mac. it's a knockoff.

    all apple has to do is let these systems ship as they are. the psystar website even says there are issues with macOSx and some stuff doesn't work:
    http://www.psystar.com/how_do_i_ eject_a_cd_without_an_apple_keyboard.html

    any mac fanboy will tell you that everything on an apple "just works". if there are issues, then it doesn't "just work". that's the thing with knockoffs, you always get what you pay for.

    now, if apple is taking a loss on leopard in the hopes that it will spur the sale of mac hardware, then apple needs to "fix the glitch" and stop taking a loss on an obviously viable standalone product.

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