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EFF slams Apple over Bluwiki cease & desist

updated 02:05 am EST, Wed November 26, 2008

Bluwiki Apple continued

A recent move on Apple's part to quash discussion on the iTunesDB file - a database that governs playable media on an iPod - has been found to conflict with free speech rights. Slashdot reports that since the bluwiki site merely featured discussion on the subject of whether the iTunesDB file could be reverse engineered, after a recent hashing mechanism update foiled previous efforts for the new iPod touch and iPhone.

Since the iTunesDB file is created by the user's actions, Apple holds no rights over the content generated by the file, similar to how content is still owned by the end user when blogging through a web browser. Another hole in Apple's argument is that the file is not protected, since it is readable by any application.

Reverse engineering a solution is also a protected action, so long as the method does not breach any copyrighted material. The discussion and methods supplied by bluwiki classify under this measure, and should therefore be protected.

[via Electronic Frontier Foundation]




by MacNN Staff

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  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    "has been found"?

    "has been found to conflict with free speech rights"

    That language is the domain of the courts. I believe the term you're looking for is "accused", and that would be by the EFF which last time I checked, was not a court.

  1. dogzilla

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +3

    Right vs. Legal

    Who gives a damn what the court thinks? All that's important to me is what I think - and I think Apple's clearly in the wrong on this. You should make up your own mind. Just because something is legal doesn't mean it's right.

    Remember when Jobs put out his doe-eyed paean to freedom of the media, urging the big bad evil music labels to get rid of DRM because he hated it so much? Turns out Jobs is what we suspected all along - a lying sack of s***, only interested in the money.

    I love Apple products, but I despise hypocrisy.

  1. purpleshorts

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -1

    Right vs. Legal 2

    Obviously Jobs wants money. If that is a crime, who among us would escape judgement?

    Reverse-engineering may not be illegal, but that does not make it right. Someone puts a ton of effort into making something, and someone else comes along after and wants to "discuss" how to steal it. I don't see how Apple wanting to stop this discussion makes them anything but careful. Just because something is legal doesn't mean it's right.

  1. nativeNYer

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    Both ways

    It seems Apple wants it both ways. They were so keen on the big media companies removing DRM from music, since of course that benefitted Apple. Non-DRM music means more sales and potentially more iPod/iPhone buyers.

    But now that someone is doing something that isn't even really circumventing their own DRM, although it may lead to that, they send out the legal ninjas to take these people down.
    They want it both ways, but it doesn't work that way. I wholeheartedly agree that this is a BS move on Apple's part. I have no personal interest in any project like that described here, but they should be allowed to do this without legal threats from Apple.

    Also, I really don't get why they would even care about this. Someone's trying to make iPod/iPhones sync with other players outside of iTunes. Big whoop! It might even mean more iPod/iPhone customers, so why would they be concerned? I could almost understand it if they were trying to make iTunes sync to a Sansa player or something, because that could mean lost sales for Apple. That isn't the case here, so why is this even an issue?

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +3

    Re: Right vs legal 2

    Reverse-engineering may not be illegal, but that does not make it right.

    Whether it is 'right' or 'wrong' really depends on what one is trying to reverse engineer, and for what purpose.

    Someone puts a ton of effort into making something, and someone else comes along after and wants to "discuss" how to steal it.

    See, you don't understand what's being done.

    What is being discussed is reverse engineering a database file so that people can use some open source media player to sync music with their iPhone, rather than use iTunes.

    Since iTunes is given away for free (so Apple isn't losing an iTunes sale), and the iPhone is already owned, what is actually being 'stolen' here?

    The only "effort" that people are 'stealing' here is the effort Apple has gone to try to keep the database file format and data indecipherable to prevent this from working.

    If someone were trying to reverse engineer the iPhone, clone it, and sell their own, that would not be 'right' (and would be stealing in most people's views).

    If someone were trying to reverse engineer the itunesdb file so they could decrypt the music files, for the purpose of illegally redistributing DRM-free versions (like who the h*** would waste the time, those files already exist on the internet somewhere, you just have to look a little), that also would be 'wrong' and 'stealing'.

    I don't see how Apple wanting to stop this discussion makes them anything but careful. Just because something is legal doesn't mean it's right.

    They're being careful in making sure that they control everything. Unfortunately, there's some people out there who don't use Windows or OS X, have an iPhone, and want to be able to use it to its full abilities.

  1. ethical_paul

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    Jobs lied?

    OK dogzilla-

    Please explain how Jobs lied when he said music should be DRM free. Even today the news reports that more labels' music is DRM free on iTunes because the labels are finally allowing it.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -1

    The NEWS?

    Yeah, lets all believe everything we're fed by the news {sarcasm}. Dumbass

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