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The Courts Government Businesses News Apple

Psystar Claims Apple Forgot To Copyright Mac OS 648

Preedit writes "Mac cloner Psystar is claiming in new court papers that Apple's copyright suit against it should be dismissed, because Apple has never filed for copyright protection on Mac OS X 10.5 with the US Copyright Office. Infoweek is reporting that the claim, if it holds up, could open the door for third-parties to enter the Mac market without fear of legal action from Apple. In its latest set of allegations, Psystar is also accusing Apple of bricking Macs that don't run on genuine Apple hardware." We've been following the Psystar-Apple imbroglio since the beginning.
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Psystar Claims Apple Forgot To Copyright Mac OS

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  • WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @12:15AM (#26208479)


  • The way US copyright law works is that copyright exists automatically, no registration is necessary. However, registration *is* required before filing a lawsuit. If Apple really failed to register before suing Psystar, they might be able to get the suit dismissed. If the judge is particularly nice, they might even get it dismissed with prejudice, meaning it can't be brought again (though I can't see why a judge would do that).

    However, that will in no way prevent Apple from registering their copyright and then filing suit against others. Nor will it prevent Apple from suing Psystar over alleged infringements of other copyrights (say, newer versions of OS X).

    This is an ordinary bit of legal maneuvering by some attorneys who noticed an apparent procedural oversight by their opponents and who are attempting to capitalize on it to get at least a little delay, and perhaps even more. It's really not a big deal.

    (IANAL, and I didn't even stay in a Holiday Inn Express, so the above is likely complete crap.)

  • by WiiVault ( 1039946 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @12:24AM (#26208551)
    I wonder what that will mean since Psystar buys actual OS X disks? Would Apple sue for the "damage" of not selling the hardware?
  • By definition... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GrahamCox ( 741991 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @12:26AM (#26208579) Homepage
    Psystar is also accusing Apple of bricking Macs that don't run on genuine Apple hardware

    Since the definition of "Macintosh" is a computer built/branded/sold by Apple, and no-one else, this statement is nonsensical. It could say "Psystar is accusing Apple of bricking generic PCs that are attempting to illegally run OS X", but, like it or not, I would have thought they are entitled to do so.
  • by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @12:41AM (#26208683)

    Yes. But would OSX be OSX if it ran on someone else's hardware.

    As soon as you allow Joe Schmoe to install OSX he's going to want to start making demands. "Why doesn't my 15 year old network card work?" "Why doesn't my printer work?" "Why does my computer keep crashing."

    The reason Microsoft got into trouble with Vista was largely in part due to pressure from system builders pressuring them to include hardware that wasn't actually capable of running Vista smoothly, or had inadequate driver support.

    Opening OSX would be like kicking a house cat out into the gutter and expecting it to fend for itself. It's just not ready for the rediculous diversity of hardware that Windows is obligated to support by running on commodity hardware. That smooth "just works" will be descend into the same brand tarnishing sludge that is compatibility.

  • by Skrapion ( 955066 ) <> on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @12:45AM (#26208721) Homepage

    No. You can always waive your own rights. The GPL is a statement that you're waiving some of your rights, provided the users of your work follow the rules in the license.

  • by Sancho ( 17056 ) * on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @12:50AM (#26208755) Homepage

    "Bricked" means "turned the hardware into a brick." It means, literally, that the hardware cannot be used for its intended purpose anymore. If you were able to reinstall, your hardware was not bricked.

  • by MidnightBrewer ( 97195 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @12:50AM (#26208757)

    So the copyright law basically says that you're protected automatically, but that the protection isn't worth anything until you actually register for protection? Nice. Good to know.

  • by MidnightBrewer ( 97195 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @12:57AM (#26208805)

    OSX is whipping Vista's butt without running on commodity hardware. Mac adoption has been on the rise since Vista's release, due in part to Vista's success in losing the confidence of Windows users. However, OSX would fall into the same morass of problems the minute that Apple allowed it to run on any old machine, as users running on old hardware but lusting for new eye-candy attempted to crowbar OSX into their outdated rig. No thanks.

  • by linesma ( 869062 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @01:16AM (#26208933)
    I find this whole conversation funny. Why? If it were Micro$oft suing Pystar, everyone would be lining up to defend them, not the other way around. What makes it so different? Individuals have been trained like Pavlov's Dogs to growl and show hate whenever the word Micro$oft or Winders is mentioned. I do not personally like Winders (I use Linux for everything but gaming), but I do believe it did play a role in standardizing computers. Have we become "toys" for slick marketing to not apply the same standard to both companies? Thank You (He steps down from his soapbox and hangs his head in shame. He defended the Antichrist after all)
  • by Meor ( 711208 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @01:19AM (#26208943)
    This is just an editor rant. I'm sorry, kdawson is just a horrible editor. First he posts "google is horrible they're not giving bonuses and feeding the masses dogfood; P.S. use linux" Then he posts this article which dozens of people have immediately spotted as B.S. I want my 7 minutes of reading Slashdot back.
  • Re:WTF (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pegdhcp ( 1158827 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @01:28AM (#26208977)
    This was my exact reaction, so it is not off topic. BTW a similar thing happened to Microsoft in the past, you think people would learn...
    Paul McDougall says that:

    The stunning claim, if true, could undermine Apple's ability to restrict third parties, such as Psystar, from selling clones that run the Mac OS on generic PC hardware.

    Emphasis is mine, and while having trouble to believe this, I know, we all know, such mistakes happened and will happen again.

  • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @01:30AM (#26208989)

    As soon as you allow Joe Schmoe to install OSX he's going to want to start making demands. "Why doesn't my 15 year old network card work?" "Why doesn't my printer work?" "Why does my computer keep crashing.

    I understand that all those problems will become more relevent if OSX is on machines with random hardware, but I disagree with the result. I've seen people working on a theoretically well-tuned Mac in a lab, where the Mac was in a crashed state (well, the OS stopped responding) because it could not handle a regular-old USB peripheral drive, formatted for MacOSX (Don't know HFS or what). None of the users considered it a crash, even though the computer stopped responding for ten minutes, and they lost all their work. The fact that it was able to autorecover while keeping the desktop on in the background made it "not a crash".

    I've had a lot of problems with Macs, and a lot of problems with PCs. Most people are more forgiving of Mac problems. Personally, I'm more forgiving of PC problems because I understand what's wrong more often. And I suppose that not understanding either makes Macs more comfortable to most people, even when they crash.

  • by gruntled ( 107194 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @01:44AM (#26209057)

    I believe I am in fact correct on this. From the US Copyright Office: []

    "Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U.S. origin."

    Yes, you can register after the fact, but if you don't do so within 90 days of publication or -- and this is particularly important in this instance -- *prior* to infringement of the work, your award is limited to actual damages; hardly worth the money Apple would be paying to its lawyers. Again, assuming that Apple didn't register the work.

  • Re:Snowball, hell (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @01:48AM (#26209079)

    Are you suggesting that if I buy a Honda engine, I am not allowed to install it in a Ford that I also purchased? On what grounds could Honda prevent me from installing it myself, or paying someone else to do it? No one is asking Apple, or Honda to install their products on competitive hardware.

  • by mstone ( 8523 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @01:51AM (#26209089)

    The unit cost of OS X is irrelevant.

    Apple doesn't sell OS X for non-Apple-branded hardware, and Psystar doesn't sell copies of OS X per se. Psystar isn't taking any money out of Apple's pocket in a software market for 'copies of OS X', because no such market exists.

    The place where Psystar is taking money out of Apple's pocket is in hardware. The difference between "an Apple-branded computer running OS X" and "a Psystar-branded computer running OS X" is the machine itself, not the OS. Therefore, the damage to Apple is the cost of equivalent hardware less the cost of one retail copy of OS X. Apple's retail computer prices are public knowledge, so adding up the damages would be trivial.

    That's only where Psystar's barbed-wire enema begins, though. The big money will be in 'brand dilution'.

    Apple's brand is immensely valuable, and Psystar has been trying to redefine it. Apple has always presented itself as a company that sells "the whole widget." They've spent a lot of money in every aspect of their business, from R&D to manufacturing, to sales and support, pushing the idea that a box from Apple is a single unit that Just Works (TM). Then along comes Psystar, telling everyone that Apple is really just a component vendor, whose OS division is just like Microsoft and whose hardware division is just like Dell. If you want an "Apple compatible computer," you can pick and choose pieces from any vendors you want.

    A large part of this case revolves around whether Psystar has a legitimate right to tell the whole world what business Apple is in. At present, it looks like the answer to that is a big, fat "No."

    If a court rules that Psystar has indeed been blowing smoke out its ass, then the equivalent advertising cost of every square inch of newsprint or second of airtime devoted to covering this case in the public view can be treated as damage to Apple. Every "they can't tell me what to do with the OS after I've bought the box" comment in these threads counts as noise that Apple will have to spend time, effort, and money arguing against. That time, effort, and money are resources Apple could otherwise have spent writing more software, designing new hardware, or otherwise expanding or improving its business. Psystar would have imposed an operating expense on Apple without having any legal right to do so. And following the theory that "if you light the fire, you can be held liable for whatever gets burnt," the court can rule that Psystar owes Apple the cost of cleaning up the mess it created.

  • Re:Seriously?!? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @01:54AM (#26209105)

    Testing the waters, Hardware vendors want to sell something other than windows. I'm willing to bet one (or more) of the big 5 PC vendors is behind this

    I just can't see it.

    Even in the most decisive win for Psystar the ONLY thing apple has to do is take OSX off the retail shelf. That's all folks! if Psystar can't buy OSX, it can't bundle OSX. Game over!

    Apple then only bundles OSX with actual Apple computer, and it delivers new versions to registered customers via Apple Software update, requiring them to have a valid apple hardware serial number and a credit card to, obtain that particular update.

    Then the only way anyone is going to get OSX then is to either buy an Apple, or to Pirate it. Neither of which will do Psystar or anyone else in the 'big 5' any good. Sure Psystar could buy a mini, and 'rebundle' OSX with a Core2Quad tower... but Psystar is going to have a tough time being price competive, paying $500+ per license... unless they part out the mini's on ebay or something to recoup the cost.

  • Re:Snowball, hell (Score:4, Insightful)

    by __aasqbs9791 ( 1402899 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @01:58AM (#26209125)
    I'm pretty sure Ford could do that if they wanted legally. If they bought a Honda engine and put it into another car, the only problem they would have is if they tried to call it a Honda (Trademark), or claim that Honda had to honor a warranty on it. I'm not sure how Ford would make any money doing that, but if they figured out how, I don't see anything automatically illegal that would allow Honda to sue to prevent it.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @02:02AM (#26209149) Homepage Journal

    The code in the Lexmark cartridges did a heck of a lot more than just stopping competitors. Lexmark lost copyright over the entire program. That's the precedent. Just because you're ignorant of it, doesn't make it not so.

  • by log0n ( 18224 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @02:16AM (#26209207)

    See that's the thing.. it doesn't matter what you want Apple to sell you, you have to decide if what Apple will sell you is what you want. And since it apparently isn't something you're interested in, you in turn have to forgo OSX.

    I don't understand why this is hard to grasp.

  • Re:Seriously?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mstone ( 8523 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @02:23AM (#26209243)

    Feeding the troll, I know, but what the hell..

    Yes. Apple does have a right to a monopoly on Apple-branded computers. The Coca-Cola corporation has a right to a monopoly on Coke. Nike has a right to a monopoly on Nike running shoes.

    The whole purpose of patent, copyright, and trademark is to grant a monopoly on ideas, expressions of ideas, and icons associated with a specific company.

    If you want a computer whose OS is just as good as OS X, you have every right in the world to go out and write one. Apple can't do shit to stop you. You can sell it for profit, or just give it away if you want. You might even create a license that requires people who use and modify your code to release their own modifications so that other people can continue to share the wealth.

    That's what we call "a competitive market."

    Taking work that someone else spent the time and money to create, then using it to compete against them, is called "being a huge flaming asshole" ... a concept you've obviously mastered. If you do it in contradiction to the terms of the license -- the one whose validity is defined in terms of the monopoly granted by patent, copyright, or trademark -- that's called "illegal."

    There's both a legal and ethical difference between "I'm willing to share everything I have with you," and "I'm willing to share everything you have."

  • by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @02:28AM (#26209257) Homepage
    Technically, it may work. Financially, it's a loser for Apple. It also dilutes their brand.
  • Re:Seriously?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @02:33AM (#26209279) Homepage Journal

    Don't disagree with you.. But Psystar is not selling counterfeits. They're selling clones.

    Taking work that someone else spent the time and money to create, then using it to compete against them, is called "being a huge flaming asshole" ...

    Economics would disagree with you. Making clones is a normal respectable part of every business.. except ones where the government has granted a monopoly.. and Apple seems to think their copyright monopoly gives them a monopoly over their commodity hardware business too.

  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @03:14AM (#26209409) Homepage Journal

    You are required to buy a Honda car if you want to run it with a Honda engine. Honda can take any steps they want to prevent you from running their engines in a Toyota. That is not illegal.

    This is what is really annoying about talking about anti-trust stuff with geeks. No, Honda can not.

    All this stuff has already been done - in dozens of markets - in the 1800s. It has been made perfectly clear that any action taken by a manufacturer to deliberately break interoperability with competing products is illegal.

    In fact, even your exact example has been addressed in US courts. Honda is not required to maintain compatibility with any competitors that are using their engines, but if they make modifications specifically to break competitor's ability to use their engines, then they are engaging in anti-trust action.

    It's not hard.

  • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @03:15AM (#26209413)
    It doesn't matter, under the Berne Convention and the Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988 you do not need to register your work to hold copyright and have protections under copyright law. The only remedy not open to Apple is attorneys fees and statutory damages if they didn't register, since their main goal is a permanent injunction I don't think they care.
  • Re:Hip, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LoRdTAW ( 99712 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @05:16AM (#26209783)

    Turtle neck was referring to Jobs image and how he represents Apple. I also do live in New York City and I am exposed to allot of hipsters as well as Mac Snobs (my friend is one!). So please forgive my bias. I don't dislike OSX, I have used it and enjoyed it. It unfortunately doesn't fit my needs. I use Vista Ultimate on my Gaming rig and Linux/BSD on everything else.

    "This "Apple==hip" thing is getting ridiculous."

    Yea it really got ridiculous when they aired all those "im a Mac" commercials. They blatantly market their products as "hip" to belittle PC users. Then toss in all the iPod commercials and iPod product placement in pop music videos. How many TV shows do you see with Mac's/iMac/MAcBook on peoples desks? I have seen them on Dexter and CSI to name a few. Maybe they are there because they happen to be popular with video editing. Or maybe Apple contributes to those who give free publicity? Who knows all I know is they truly do have an excellent marketing department.

    "iPods might be hip, but iMacs, Apple TV, OS X, iLife, iWork, Airport Extreme, Time Capsule, etc?"

    All of those other products are for people who already own Apple hardware. They don't count unless your a Mac user. Otherwise you would not be interested in those products.

    I dont want to start a flame war or anything. I just want to point out Apple has an image to protect. Letting others intstall OSX on more generic hardware makes them just another PC maker.

  • by badpazzword ( 991691 ) <<badpazzword> <at> <>> on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @05:41AM (#26209873)

    Yes, but that wouldn't cover PAST sales.

    Alas, apparently, Apple did register that copyright. RTFA, or rather the comments to it.

  • by mad_robot ( 960268 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @06:37AM (#26210093)

    Back in the '80s, there were nowhere near as many computers around.

    Today even my mother has a computer. The margins may be smaller, but the market has grown considerably.

  • Re:Seriously?!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gtall ( 79522 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @07:11AM (#26210187)

    Most of us who buy Macs do so for OS X and the integration with the hardware. Marketing might work for the iPhone, but I never met anyone who bought a Mac to "be cool".


  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @07:43AM (#26210307)

    The issue has never been about the legality of the OS software Psystar is supplying with their PCs.
    It is all about whether installing and running the software on a non-Apple PC is a breach of Apple's rights.

  • Re:Seriously?!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rutefoot ( 1338385 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @08:07AM (#26210379)

    Yes. Apple does have a right to a monopoly on Apple-branded computers. The Coca-Cola corporation has a right to a monopoly on Coke. Nike has a right to a monopoly on Nike running shoes.

    Don't disagree with you.. But Psystar is not selling counterfeits. They're selling clones.

    To use your original analogy, that'd be like, I don't know, Pepsi coming out with a product that is very similar to Coke.

  • Re:Seriously?!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WNight ( 23683 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @08:54AM (#26210539) Homepage

    Not allow, no. But they shouldn't be able to stop those who can build a Hackintosh, or those who sell it.

    If you want to sell something you give away your rights to control how it's used. Apple wants to be in the rental market.

    Apple wants us to let them abuse contract and copyright law to turn their trademark and EULA into effective monopoly control. I don't see what's in it for us...

  • by Dhalka226 ( 559740 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @09:11AM (#26210617)

    This is untrue, and I can assure you that the amount of "actual damages" that Apple's very expensive and capable legal team would confront you with over OSX, would utterly dwarf even the "per infringement" maximum of statutory damages.

    They can quote whatever number they want as compensatory damages, but the burden of proving those damages is on them. If they tried to approach a number exceeding the statutory damages, they would be facing an extremely angry judges. Judges are not a fan of being lied to, nor is it ethical for lawyers to even try. Push them too much and they might just throw you out on your nose.

    The absolute most they would be able to realistically get is the average cost of an Apple machine + whatever profits Pystar has made so far from selling these machines. Clearly that's nothing to sneeze at, but pretending that just because Apple has a lot of lawyers that they're magically going to get some uber-ridiculous number isn't based in reality. They're not even likely to receive that much, frankly. I'd wager the number would be closer to the cost of copies of OS X * sales + profits than it is cost of apple machines * sales + profits.

    Compensatory damages, which is what these are, are almost never that high. When you see "COMPANY Z ORDERED TO PAY ONE HUNDRED GAZILLION DOLLARS!" it's almost all punitive or statutory, neither of which Apple would be entitled to recover if Pystar is correct that they did not register their copyright prior to filing this lawsuit.

  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @11:29AM (#26211757)

    A low-end Dell sells for about half the price of the Mini, but has better specs.

    Did you somehow miss the glaring size spec?

    Create a comparable PC at Dell, HP, etc.

    You obviously did not go through this exercise.


    What in the world are you talking about?

  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @01:11PM (#26212997)

    Like the AC said, I don't need case law: it's simple common sense! My real property rights (i.e., my right to use the product I purchased) trump Apple's imaginary "right" to dictate how the new owner can use the product it sold to him.

    Next, let me ask you a few simple questions: does Ford have the right to dictate that you may only use Ford-brand parts on your Mustang? Does J.K. Rowling have the right to dictate that you may only read her books using Harry Potter(R)-brand incandescent light? Does Sony have the right to dictate that you may only watch a Sony movie on a Sony DVD player?

    The answer, in case you didn't figure it out, is NO! Why? Because that would be absurd. In all cases, such conditions would violate the owner's fundamental property rights!

    Now, why should Apple's case be any different? And the onus is on you (or rather Apple), not me (or rather Psystar), to answer that question -- to prove that the Apple Corporation's (a fictional "person") right to enforce product tying to support its monopoly on computers running OS X is more important than actual natural persons' right to own property!

  • by ObiWanKenblowme ( 718510 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @03:25PM (#26214889)

    "Stupidly"? Wow. I wish I could run as stupid a business as Apple - then I could rest my stupid head on piles of money each night.

    Speaking of stupid, you posted:

    Why is this "wonky" reasoning? I exercise my "right" to whatever computer I want at whatever price I want all the time. It's called capitalism and open markets

    That is most decidedly not how capitalism works. With capitalism, you can buy whatever computer you want, or you can buy a computer at whatever price you want (out of the range offered). You don't often get to choose both. About the only true statement you've made in this thread was that you have the right to not buy Apple products.

    Kudos though - the way you replaced "Apple" with "Crapple" has made me sit down and really rethink my position on all of this.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!