Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G


For the most part, I've been ignoring this.  But the legal arguments have taken a nasty turn that threatens my precious General Public License, which for me is to computers what the Constitution is to my country.  Someone somewhere is bankrolling a new attack on the GPL, and it's time I spoke up.

For about a year now, there has been a lawsuit going on between Psystar and Apple.  Psystar makes clone PC's.  In a move a lot of us saw coming, Psystar is trying to make clone Macs.  With the switch to Intel chips, this is easier than ever.  There was an Apple clone maker back in the days for the SBC's, but their machines weren't any cheaper and they went under.  Psystar is using cheaper hardware, since you aren't paying for Apple's designs.  Their PC's look just like any other generic tower you can buy, in fact.

Why do this?  Is it because the Mac sells roughly 10 mil PC's a year and has a nearly 10% marketshare?  Nope.  It's something more sinister, and it's about destroying digital rights.  Keep in mind, as much as I love open source, I also believe people have a right to make their software proprietary if they so choose.  As long as they are not being sneaky and playing nice with the customers and competitors, I'm fine with it.  It's when they attempt unfair abuse that I get angry.  Apple's EULA explicitly states that their OS software can't be used on non-Mac hardware.  THAT'S THE RULES.  Psystar attempted to argue that Apple was a monopoly and that the EULA was restrictive and unenforcable.  Apple countersued, claiming license violation and DMCA.  The lawsuit was filed in California.  The judge ruled in favor of Apple.  That should have been the end of that.

Psystar recently got a new lawyer.  Everyone was wondering why.  Yesterday, Psystar filed a lawsuit in Florida.  Same arguments with a dash or two of new flavoring.  How can they sue twice over the same stuff?  They claim this covers Snow Leopard, the newest build of OS X.  The last one, 10.5, was just Leopard.  SO ITZ TTLY DIFFERENT, GAIS!!!1!

So how does this tie in with destroying the GPL?  It's just one proprietary company going after another, right?  Wrong.  The arguments Psystar is trying to win with will basically mean that ANY license is worthless.  Psystar says they use custom software to interact with the Open Source portion of Mac OS X (OS X is based on Unix, so there is a heavy FOSS portion to it).  They do not, however, establish why their interface is needed in the first place.  Mac already makes an interface that interacts with the FOSS portion of OS X.  Basically, if Psystar's arguments are upheld, no software license can be enforced.  And that means that companies like M$ would be able to take GPL'ed code and use it as they wish, without credit, repayment, or giving back.  They could even use it to destroy Open Source's reputation by tainting code and spreading the word to their user base.  It's an attempt to establish a legal precident that can erode digital rights.

Apple has already won once.  And the GPL has been upheld several times in a court of law.  So it doesn't immediately appear that Psystar will succeed in their quest to take a license and redefine it the way they want.  Remember, part of a license is the right to determine who gets to use your software, and take those rights away from anyone who violates your terms.  The GPL does this.  Apple does this.  M$ does this.  This isn't about freedom, it's about anarchy.  The courts are a very imperfect mechanism, as SCO has proven.  Don't let Psystar get away with this.
Tags: computers, did not do the research, digital rights, don't try this at home, drm, foss, haven't we suffered enough, important life lessons, infernal gall, linux, lord hear our prayer, nightmare fuel, open source, patent law, technology is a beautiful thing, this ought to be interesting
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