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Apple sued by EFF, OdioWorks for DMCA takedown notice

updated 06:50 pm EDT, Mon April 27, 2009

Apple sued over DMCA test

Apple is in the middle of a new lawsuit that could test the limits of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The lawsuit was filed jointly by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and attorneys representing OdioWorks, the company that runs Bluwiki, a technology forum website that hosted iPodhash, which discussed use of open-source iPod technology. The lawsuit comes in response to Apple's demands that the iPodhash forum be closed because it violated the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions.

Lawyers in the new lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court/Northern District, CA, argue that the iPodhash discussions involved reverse-engineering software, as opposed to breaking copy protection. The lawyers are asking for a court ruling to clarify the matter. This case is unique in that Apple pressured the site to remove discussion about reverse engineering a product -- normally companies only pursue successful attempts where a physical product was reverse engineered.

Apple's November takedown letter resulted in the removal of three Web pages from the Bluwiki Web site that discussed a cryptographic function used by iTunes. Open-source developers have been trying to break cryptographic mechanisms used by iTunes since 2007, the year Apple first introduced a special operation, called a checksum hash, into its iPod line to confirm that Apple's devices were communicating with iTunes and not other software.

The original mechanism was reverse engineered, leading to Apple's late 2008 introduction of a new version of the technique with the iPod Touch and iPhone. The new technique was being discussed on iPodhash when Apple filed its takedown notice. The plaintiffs say that say iPodhash was trying to get the iPod and iPhone to work with Linux-based software as Apple doesn't ship a version of iTunes for Linux.

Apple claims the reverse engineering also threatens Apple's FairPlay copy-protection system, violating the DMCA. Odioworks founder counters that the iPodhash site was simply an effort to develop a way of using iPods and iPhones on Linux and other third-party software.

by MacNN Staff



  1. ElectroTech

    Joined: Dec 1969


    s**** the EFF

    If the EFF had their way, no coders would ever be able to be paid because their work would be free to any jerkwater thief/hacker who would spread it freely over the net.

    IP must be respected and thieves must be put in jail. I want the right to be able to make a living off my IP by requiring YOU to pay for it.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: s**** the

    Um, maybe you should learn about a group before you decide they must be put down (which, apparently, all you need to do is sue Apple for that to be the case).

    The EFF is about protecting your rights as people (such as, say, not having all your email read by the gov't just because they can and they want to). I think you're thinking of the Free-Software foundation.

    From Wikipedia:
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is an international non-profit advocacy and legal organization based in the United States with the stated purpose of being dedicated to preserving the right to freedom of speech, such as protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, in the context of today's digital age (see also digital rights).

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: s**** the

    Oh, and what IP is being protected here? Oh, right, the encryption apple added to the iPod for no reason other to keep other products besides iTunes from communicating with the device. Well, that surely is meant to take money out of Apple's pockets.

    And just make sure you defend every plaintiff in a patent lawsuit against apple. Don't want you to be a hypocrite now, do we.

  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I can't stand these self-righteous people who believe everything involves freedom of speech as if that somehow translates into, we don't need any safeguards against hackers or people who are just unhappy with anyone we defend.
    These lawyers have no life.

  1. andrewbw

    Joined: Dec 1969


    More MacNN hilarity

    Seriously, this is the only place where I see the DMCA -- widely regarded to be fundamentally broken legislation -- defended so vigorously.

    Seriously, those of you who crawl out of the woodwork to go "YAY APPLE" during stories like this really ought to read the DMCA. You may be a bit more supportive of efforts of the EFF then.

  1. ff11

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: s**** the

    I don't defend Apple in every case. But in this case it is clear. In this case the EFF is protecting the right to steal from others. You do not have an inherent "right" to what others people produce. Apple is not forcing you to get an iPod or download any material from iTunes, but if you do choose to do so, you first agree to abid by the license.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: s**** the

    But in this case it is clear. In this case the EFF is protecting the right to steal from others.

    I'm sorry, exactly how is one stealing from others? Despite Apple's protestations, there's nothing about this that circumvents FairPlay (and who cares if it does, since Apple has gone DRM free on their music now anyways).

    It isn't about getting music off an iPod. You can do that now anyway (Senuti, for example). It isn't about bypassing DRM, since you can do that now anyway (supposedly requiem will strip your Fairplay from your music).

    All this is about is third-party developers trying to figure out how they can upload their music to an iPod. That's it. Nothing more.

    And I don't recall agreeing to a license when I bought any ipod. And I certainly don't recall being able to return an iPod to Apple for full reimbursement because I don't abide by whatever "iPod" license you claim I need to agree to before using it.

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