Apple doesn't seem to think the DMCA bites
August 29, 2002 7:41 PM   Subscribe

Apple doesn't seem to think the DMCA bites Apple is using their interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to prevent third party dealers from providing software to Apple users enabling them to burn DVDs on external drives. They have no problem with them burning DVDs on Apple drives, naturally. And to think I was just about to switch, too. Um, yeah.
posted by John Smallberries (38 comments total)

 
Doesn’t Apple have every right to behave in this manner? iDVD is their software; By all rights, Apple get to choose what hardware it works on.

From what I can tell in the article, they’re not preventing 3rd party software from working with external drives, they're preventing a patch to iDVD which enables it to work with external drives.

To me (IANAL), this seems perfectly legal and logical.
posted by cheaily at 7:56 PM on August 29, 2002


The way I read this was Apple was pissed that the dealer hacked iDVD so that it would play on external drives. It seems more upset about it tweaking iDVD than its application.

My question is, why doesn't Apple sell an extrenal DVD burner for its customers?

At least on the PC side you can get drives and software from many vendors so you can have add additional drives.
posted by birdherder at 8:01 PM on August 29, 2002


I just don't see how there's logic in their argument. Even if this new hack allows you to use iDVD on an external drive, doesn't it still require you to have (and therefore purchase) a Mac with iDVD to connect said external drive to?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:21 PM on August 29, 2002


They want the profit from the drive sale. An INTERNAL drive because thats what they sell. Apple is a hardware company now that makes good software.
posted by madmanz123 at 8:29 PM on August 29, 2002


XQUZYPHYR : They'd rather you buy the whole package from them, SuperDrive and all. Means more money in their pockets.
posted by cheaily at 8:37 PM on August 29, 2002


grrr, please consult the relevant slashdot thread

its nothing to do with the dmca, and not really related to hardware sales/marketing either

because apple has to license a bunch of dvd authoring stuff (mpeg2 etc) and idvd is essentially given away, the only way to track 'sales' is to tie the idvd license to the superdrive
posted by sawks at 8:43 PM on August 29, 2002


From what I see, and the letter of the DMCA law, it doesn't sound like apple's got much of a legal leg to stand on. The patch doesn't sound like it is circumventing any copy protection scheme or harming their copyright on the software. It's simply an extension written by a third party developer to make the software work with more devices. It sounds a lot like the people that wrote exporters for entourage and ipod, so your email contacts could reside on your ipod (before apple released their address book functions for the ipod). It's a bit of software to extend the use of hardware.

Personally, I use toast and an external burner on my powerbook, and figured someday I'd just replace my external cdr with a dvdr. I guess not now. That's enough to make my next machine a PC.
posted by mathowie at 9:07 PM on August 29, 2002


As a software developer, I would be pretty pissed off if somebody else was making money by distributing a binary patch that modified my software. Particularly so if that patch only existed so that consumers could violate the license terms of the software. iDVD is only distributed with a new computer (though Apple does sell an upgrade, it's not the full software), so any use of iDVD with one of OWC's firewire drives would have to involve some sort of license infringement.

That said, I'm not sure the DMCA provides any recourse to Apple (but IANAL). In addition, there's a good chance that OWC would have capitulated if Apple had just asked nicely, instead of bringing out nasty legal language (Apple could have just revoked their Apple certification). This seems to be a huge PR mistake of Apple's part: any usage of the DMCA is a great way to ensure the hatred of geeks the world over.
posted by Llama-Lime at 9:27 PM on August 29, 2002


Perhaps a bad PR move, but this slashdot comment totally hits the nail on the head:

It's impossible for them not to pirate the software. iDVD is only supplied as a free application with a SuperDrive that Apple sells you. If you are using another company's DVD burner, then you cannot use Apple's software.

This is the hand that Apple has to play with -- they make money off hardware, so they can give away industry-leading software (all of the iApps). This type of move is protecting their interests, just like Microsoft, just like the companies we all work for, and just like you would if you were a CEO.
posted by jragon at 9:56 PM on August 29, 2002


Apple is much worse that Microsoft when it comes to stuff like this.

I can never understand why the 'Think Different' crowd identifies with a company that says 'Think as Steve Jobs wants or we will sue you'.
posted by Argyle at 9:57 PM on August 29, 2002


Apple is much worse that Microsoft when it comes to stuff like this.

I'm not convinced of that (though I might be with more examples like this). There are other options for burning DVD's; if Apple wants to fund the development of iDVD by ensuring the purchase of an Apple drive, what's wrong with that? Or is Apple's use of the DMCA what makes them worse than Microsoft in your opinion? Apple isn't forcing any software upon anybody, as the behemoth tends to do.
posted by Llama-Lime at 10:11 PM on August 29, 2002


if Apple wants to fund the development of iDVD by ensuring the purchase of an Apple drive, what's wrong with that? Or is Apple's use of the DMCA what makes them worse than Microsoft in your opinion?

I guess it's a protectionist tactic to do things this way, but why can't Apple sell their full-featured software for other models?

On some level, some small time developer wrote a patch to get a slight change from their software, much like the little hacks to iTunes that put your "now playing" info on your site. Apple is using some real brute force and historically bad tactics to get what they want, and it looks like they got pretty ugly when they didn't have to.

Part of me also wonders how a company can be on the one hand a complete control freak about how their software, hardware, branding, and advertising is done and treated by others, and on the other hand embrace a sort of hippie share and share alike "Rip. Mix. Burn." ethos that makes it seem like they want the world to tinker with their macs.
posted by mathowie at 10:22 PM on August 29, 2002


Apple is NOT much worse than Microsoft, let's not even compare. to Apple's defense, OSX requires NO 25 digit serial number nor does it have any copy protection nor will your machine require a new license if you upgrade a certain percentage of your hardware. That is BS. Apple is a corporation. Corporations suck when they make compromises that work to their benefit. But this is a basic infringement on their rights as the creator of the software. Get over it. get around it. Steal the warez, find the crack. Someone is working on it. Don't compare it to Windows bullshit.
posted by aLienated at 10:26 PM on August 29, 2002


You must really have your head in the sand if you can even think of suggesting that apple is worse than MS in this regard. open your eyes people!

Apple does not have DRM clauses in their EULAs. Apple does not retain the right to automatically spam updates onto your computer or "disable software", apple does not require serial numbers. What apple does do is object to third parties modifying their apps. That is their right. It's their software. As it is yours. The company voluntarily complied with Apple's request. They didn't have to, and they knew that. The "DMCA" angle is hype from news.com.
posted by benh57 at 10:41 PM on August 29, 2002


Please, let's not turn this into another PC vs. Mac kung fu battle. Who really cares who is more evil, really?

Did apple do the right thing in this particular case?
posted by mathowie at 10:44 PM on August 29, 2002


Matt ---

I guess it's a protectionist tactic to do things this way, but why can't Apple sell their full-featured software for other models?

They do --- DVD Studio Pro. Yeah, it's US$1k, but it's perfectly in line with what other pro-authoring apps cost. (Final Cut, After Effects, Media Cleaner, etc.)

Everyone: go back upthread and read what sawks has to say: If Apple let this slide, they would at the least get their license to distribute an MPEG-2 encoder revoked. (A rather large problem for Apple's burgeoning film editing niche.) At worst, they'd get sued themselves.
posted by nathan_teske at 11:32 PM on August 29, 2002


I may be the only one, but I agree with what Apple is trying to do in this case although perhaps not with the technique.

As others have mentioned, Apple is a hardware company that works on developing great software that works very well with their machine. I think they spend a lot of time and effort in improving their brand image of well integrated hardware and software. Whether this is true or not I cannot say as I am a PC user. A hack to their software, as it is something they cannot control, could potentially damage their brand in a very key area. From what i can tell the iDVD software after the patch will still show that it is an Apple product and I believe it is meant to run on other Apple OS's and products. If there are problems, there are a lot of Apples staring you in the face! Who are you going to blame?

I think that their implementation of DMCA was a bit much. I was surprised that they do not have a better licensing contract with a supplier that they could have implemented. This example highlights not so much the greed of Apple, but perhaps that their lawyers are just a few steps outside the box of reality when they 'Think Different'

Apple might want to undertake an internal 'Switch' campaign on their legal department.
posted by Odi et Amo at 11:32 PM on August 29, 2002


Personally, I use toast and an external burner on my powerbook, and figured someday I'd just replace my external cdr with a dvdr. I guess not now. That's enough to make my next machine a PC.

Toast 5 handle's DVDR's.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:07 AM on August 30, 2002


I still don't get while people defend Apple and their legal tactics. Sure, they are a company and need to do what's in their best interest.

But make no mistake, Apple is just as controlling, money-grubby. freedom inhibiting, and cutthroat as Microsoft. If you think Apple is in any way altruistic, I suggest you have drank the kool-aid.

I use Windows, Apple, and Linux. They all have great features, they all have a few features that completely suck. You might as well get emotional about whether a Black & Decker cordless screwdriver is better or worse than a Makita or Old Milwaukee one.
posted by Argyle at 12:35 AM on August 30, 2002


Well, Old Milwaukee wins, because beer is (even) better than tools. (And yet, strangely, the two don’t mix well.)

But Milwaukee tools rock! Way better than Black & Decker. Go Red! Hole Hawg! Hole Hawg! Hole Hawg!

Um, sorry. What were we talking about? Oh, yeah!

Yes, Apple’s a corporation, and must make every decision so as to maximize shareholder value (within the law). But their market position forces them to cater to their customers, and for the time being, altruism is in their self-interest. So what? When a person recognizes that altruism has its rewards, overcomes his instinctive selfishness, and gives his work or his property to the public, we call him “good” — why deny Apple any admiration?

Apple’s open-sourcing Rendevous, which may drastically simplify small-network administration for all of us, whether or not we run Macs; it’s hard to call that “controlling, money-grubby. freedom inhibiting, and cutthroat” just because they hope to profit by expanding their market.

Mmmm, Kool-Aid.
posted by nicwolff at 2:06 AM on August 30, 2002


What if someone patched OS X to run on pentiums? Apple would either have to make them stop or raise the price of OS X to generate an "unbundled" profit, which would be bad news for Mac users.

I like the fact that I got all this groovy software with my Mac. I support Apple taking whatever legal steps necessary to continue bundling that software.
posted by timeistight at 3:21 AM on August 30, 2002


Milwaukee or Makita? Either one is a good bet. For my money, though, Milwaukee for force and Makita for precision. Like, if you need a Sawzall or a masonry drill, go for Milwaukee. For your day to day cordless drill, Makita's a better choice. Black and Decker power tools are garbage for chumps. Don't even bother.

What, like this isn't just as interesting a discussion as Mac vs. Windows? :-)
posted by rusty at 4:04 AM on August 30, 2002


RE: the comments about this being like all the hacks for Entourage and iTunes.

1)Entourage isn't made by Apple.

2)The hacks for iTunes have all been freeware. I think the difference in this case, and the reason Apple acted as they did is because this company was charging money for its product.

Apple is a company, they try to make money. I don't believe they did anything that they aren't entitled to do in this case.
posted by untuckedshirts at 4:25 AM on August 30, 2002


it's just one of apple's "last-ditch" efforts to save a struggling technology company. the one thing that sets apple and microsoft apart, in the aspect of economics is that microsoft chose wisely in investing a majority of their funds in stock and funds.

with growing popularity of linux, its higher quality software, and greater customer support, apple is going to crash and burn, hard and fast. the only reason microsoft will not crash is because someone actually took economics in college at microsofy. mad props.
posted by wesgrimes at 4:30 AM on August 30, 2002


microsoft*
posted by wesgrimes at 4:30 AM on August 30, 2002


Hey, thanks for that incredible over-simplification. This step by APple to protect their software is actually their death knell? Good catch. And the difference between Microsoft and Apple is only their investment strategy? It does occur to you that neither is a investment bank and that Microsoft has a lot more money to invest, right?

As for Linux killing them both if Microsoft hadn't taken those eco electives after finishing their CS degree, have you used a Linux box recently?
posted by yerfatma at 6:21 AM on August 30, 2002


mathowie - Part of me also wonders how a company can be on the one hand a complete control freak about how their software, hardware, branding, and advertising is done and treated by others, and on the other hand embrace a sort of hippie share and share alike "Rip. Mix. Burn." ethos that makes it seem like they want the world to tinker with their macs.

Easy--one is reality and one is marketing, in that order.
posted by NortonDC at 6:48 AM on August 30, 2002


it's just one of apple's "last-ditch" efforts to save a struggling technology company. the one thing that sets apple and microsoft apart, in the aspect of economics is that microsoft chose wisely in investing a majority of their funds in stock and funds.

with growing popularity of linux, its higher quality software, and greater customer support, apple is going to crash and burn, hard and fast. the only reason microsoft will not crash is because someone actually took economics in college at microsofy. mad props.


that was good, wes. thanks for the laugh.
posted by moz at 8:07 AM on August 30, 2002


wesgrimes -- Nothing brings a bigger smile to my face than to see an a**hole such as yourself claim that Apple's on its last legs... when other a**holes have been doing it since 1984.

Drink a coffee, pinch yourself, sniff a line or whatever you need, but wake up and look reality in the face. Perhaps cutting out the Redmond acids would help, Club Gates boy.
posted by clevershark at 8:19 AM on August 30, 2002


Whenever anyone says "mad props" I always think of the giant banana skin from Woody Allen's Sleeper.
posted by Grangousier at 8:41 AM on August 30, 2002


...with growing popularity of linux, its higher quality software...

I have 3 linux boxes and two OSX boxes, so I know what I'm talking about when I say you're wrong. A good deal of software you can run in Linux can easily be ported over to OSX, whereas iTunes, iMovie, iDVD, not to mention the Finder, will never make their way onto Linux distros.

The mainstream has enough trouble working OSX or XP -- they certainly aren't going to want to suffer through KDE and Gnome.
posted by jragon at 8:46 AM on August 30, 2002


Apple Computer... going out of business since 1977!
posted by kindall at 9:26 AM on August 30, 2002


I can't believe that everybody also keeps ignoring one relevant - they merely stopped an Apple dealer from distributing this patch. I don't blame them, it's kind of like shitting in your own nest to cut the throat of the main manufacturer of the computers you sell. From what I've heard beyond the stories, if people balked at the higher cost of the machine with an Apple supplied DVD-R, the dealer would "make them a deal" - selling them a cheaper alternative with the patch to make it work. Sorry, but when you're an Apple Dealer, that's kinda shady...
posted by RevGreg at 10:19 AM on August 30, 2002


Buying Makita helps the terrorists.
posted by Galvatron at 11:52 AM on August 30, 2002


What if someone patched OS X to run on pentiums?

I bet you a six pack of beer that in a lab somewhere there's OSX ported Intel.
posted by birdherder at 4:05 PM on August 30, 2002


ported to
posted by birdherder at 4:06 PM on August 30, 2002


I bet you a six pack of beer that in a lab somewhere there's OSX ported Intel.

There *is* OS X ported Intel...

..OS X ported TO Intel - I don't think porting Darwin would be all that tough, nor would porting the Aqua environment. Then you start trying to get it to run with the wide range of hardware that is strewn about the PC and you run into a brick wall. Limiting the range of hardware options is a HUGE benefit when writing an OS and the plethora of knock-off swill that is present in the PC world makes that very difficult. Besides, Apple makes most of their money from hardware sales and the market isn't there for an outside company to risk the huge amount of R&D cash it would take to accomplish such a venture.

Of course, then you have the Linux world which is like an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of workstations who will have the perfect OS any day now. Yeah, right.
posted by RevGreg at 7:49 AM on August 31, 2002


VirtualPC isn't OS X ported to Intel; it's Intel ported to OS X. They simulaate a Pentium in software so you can run Windows or Linux on Macs.

But according to this, Apple does have an Intel version of OS X. I'm sure tht if they ever release it they'll have some way to prevent it from running on generic boxen.
posted by timeistight at 12:55 AM on September 1, 2002


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