Apple Beats Mac Cloner Psystar

It might be time to say goodbye to the Mac clone market (again). The reason: Apple has won a judgment against Psystar --  the grey-box Mac cloners. Here's the details...

Dave Courbanou

November 18, 2009

2 Min Read
Apple Beats Mac Cloner Psystar

logo It might be time to say goodbye to the Mac clone market (again). The reason: Apple has won a judgment against Psystar —  the grey-box Mac cloners. Here’s the details…

As you may recall from my October 8 blog entry: Psystar Corp, a custom computer builder, has been offering “Open Computers” with Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

Apple objected, but Psystar argued for a “first sale” and “fair use” defense.

Most of us are familiar with the idea of fair use: the limited use of a copyrighted work for review, academic use, and more recently, the limited use on the internet without profit. “First sale” addresses that once a copyrighted work is bought, the owner of the work does not have to seek rights to re-sell that work. The problem? That only applies to legal copies of a work. This is what prevents second hand CD stores for making a bunch of copies.

Alas, a judge ruled that not only does Psystar have no protection under the fair use clause, but that the copies of OS X that were shipped out were no longer legal copies, since they were modified to run on grey-boxes. Hence, Psystar was unauthorized to even be selling them.

Another blow was dealt when the judge ruled in favor of Apple’s suit that Psystar violated  the DMCA. “Psystar has violated the DMCA by circumventing Apple’s protection barrier and trafficking devices designed for circumvention,” said Judge William Alsup. This brought crumbling down Psystar’s defense that Apple’s OS X EULA was unfair since it restricted its use only to Macintosh Computers.

Apple has filed other claims, including breach of contract, trademark infringement and dilution. A December hearing is slated, with a January start for another trial. Oddly enough, Psystar’s website notes nothing about the lawsuit and continues to sell all of their products. The judge had not given Psystar a permanent injunction because Apple, apparently, has not yet requested it.

Odd. Needless to say, it looks like Psyatar is not long for this world.

And it also looks like Apple is taking on hackers more seriously. The latest version of Mac OS X 10.6.2 disables Intel Atom support. Meaning that all netbooks with Atom processors can no longer upgrade their systems to that Mac OS X version. Not a huge loss, since most hackers are just fine with a slightly older version. But it’s yet another step from Apple to stave off hackers.

In a way, it may seem overly aggressive from Apple, but it’s important that they’re defending their copyright before it gets way out of hand. Even though Hackintoshes represent a tiny sliver of a tiny percentage of hackers, it’s popular enough that it could blow up in Apple’s face if they weren’t careful. Psystar certainly represented this threat.

I’ve always been a proponent of open-source free software, and grey-hat hacking, but I’ll always respect Apple’s work.

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