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. identicon
    James Riley, 5 May 2008 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re: Apple is on a slippery slope...

    Yes but what he's getting at is different. Honda not allowing you to buy a tire off their car isn't the same because you can turn around and buy a compatible tire for the same car (probably at a lower price) from another company.

    For Apple, if they only allowed the iPod to sync with iTunes, that would be illegal linking - right now, you can use the iPod with any syncing software, Apple just encourages you to use iTunes and people tend to use what the manufacturer says anyway.

    Psystar, I think, has a case here - for Apple to sell their closed-source version of Darwin (yes, that's all it is, just with lots of GUI extras on top) and then tell you that you can't use it on your choice of system is just as wrong as Honda telling you that while you can certainly buy the car, or the tires, you can only use them on roads that Honda either owns and has sold you, or has constructed on their own and restricts to their cars only.

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