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.