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Apple lawyers target Mac Themes Project
April 17, 2001 4:27 PM   Subscribe

Apple lawyers target Mac Themes Project -- Apple has issued a cease and desist order against Mac Themes Project (MTP) for creating a theme editor. Apple claims the editor enables third parties to copy its copyrighted trademark themes by "improperly copying Apple's copyrighted software code and graphic files".
posted by shauna (15 comments total)

 
themes? like skins for a browser?

what is it with companies who shut down what are basically fan sites? sure, they're not making money off it, but on the other hand, they're getting free stuff made for their product by enthusiasts.

sheesh.

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 4:33 PM on April 17, 2001


I think this is really stupid *but* as I understand it the software creates themes via the Appearence Control Panel. Other third party theme software exists for mac, i.e Kaleidoscope. The fucked Apple lawyers just want to stop people revamping the Appearances in OS 9.

Still it does seem v. heavy handed.
posted by laukf at 4:41 PM on April 17, 2001


Not wanting Apple to pull ahead in the asinine moves category, Microsoft today announced they'll be suing keyboard manufacturers for including the "Print Screen" button, which they claim enables third parties to "improperly copy Microsoft's graphic files".

Other keys targeted in the suit are ctrl-c, ctrl-x, ctrl-v and Pause/Break.

posted by alan at 4:47 PM on April 17, 2001


As much as I hate to admit it, Apple is really good at being heavy handed about these kinds of things.

Honestly, I don't understand why any company would want to discoursge this especially, Apple. They really can't affort to lose too many users if they want to maintain themselves as a viable platform. All this does is discourage people from a) developing new mac software and b) buying mac computers.

Furthermore, the software in question here doesn't do a thing for OS X, it only affects the old macintosh OS. Its beyond me why Apple would so strongly defend software they plan to phase out within the next 12-18 months.
posted by darainwa at 4:54 PM on April 17, 2001


It's interesting to me how Apple seems to get a "pass" from people on these things, versus Microsoft being "the devil"
posted by owillis at 5:16 PM on April 17, 2001


Which people, Owillis?
posted by amanda at 5:54 PM on April 17, 2001


"People" in general, the "digerati"
posted by owillis at 6:09 PM on April 17, 2001


If Apple were as large and abusive as Microsoft, and Microsoft was a smaller and more user friendly company, these roles would be reversed.

Microsoft largely gets what it deserves, and so does Apple.
posted by jragon at 6:20 PM on April 17, 2001


All this does is discourage people from a) developing new mac software and b) buying mac computers.

a) of course it doesn't and b) the opposite...

Considering a), the only people who are going to stop making Macintosh software if Apple Legal shuts down the MTP are the people who are trying to make Mac theme software. This doesn't affect anybody else and you'll find other than the requisite hand wringing and sloganeering (positive and negative) from a vocal minority about Steve Jobs, the overwhelming majority of Macintosh users couldn't possibly care less. They could do this now - via a 3rd party product - if they were so interested, but I'm very sure they're not (I'll give you a dollar for every copy of Kaleidoscope you can find both installed and running constantly on any Macintosh computer...)

As for b), most people are buying Macs because they do cool media stuff, like amazingly easy digital video editing and breathtakingly simple MP3 audio management, or because connecting to the Internet is orders of magnitude easier than setting up most Windows computers to do the same thing. These people wouldn't care - and, likely, will never know - about the lack of that geek-badge of honor, the skinable GUI.
posted by m.polo at 8:31 PM on April 17, 2001


Skins suck anyway.
posted by kindall at 9:13 PM on April 17, 2001


I hate it when people confuse skins and themes.

Without getting into the rant that I really want to get into:

Skins change appearance, but do not change behaviour. WinAmp, for example, uses skins. When you change your WinAmp skin, all the buttons are still in exactly the same place, and act in the same way.

Netscape 6 uses themes. Themes not only change appearance, but they change behaviour as well -- often changing the location of common buttons.
posted by CrayDrygu at 9:47 PM on April 17, 2001


To further confuse things, Audion (a Mac MP3 player) calls what you call themes "faces." SoundJam MP (another MP3 player) calls them "skins" even though by your definition they're really themes. Windows calls a collection of color and font settings a "theme" even though by your definition they're really a skin. And Kaleidoscope (a Mac interface changer) calls what it does (a theme by your definition) a "scheme." Netscape calls it "chrome," right?

I would say there is very little corroborating evidence for your "skins" and "themes" definitons... as you can see, off the top of my head I can think of programs that define them exactly opposite of the way you do, or with no real regard for any possible standardization of the terms whatsoever. I think it would be cool if the terms had precise definitions like the ones you give, but as far as I can tell from the way developers actually use them, they just don't.
posted by kindall at 10:51 PM on April 17, 2001


Actually, if we use CrayDrygu's definitions, I have a lot less trouble with "skins" than I do "themes": I don't particularly care what color the "OK" button is drawn with, but I'm pissed as hell when it's not where it's "supposed" to be. This as I understand it is Steve Jobs' objection as well, that people ought to be able to expect basic GUI components to appear in consistent locations.
posted by m.polo at 6:47 AM on April 18, 2001


While I understand that it's not necessarily your objection, m.polo, I can't understand why someone would want to restrict their users from configuring the UI.

I mean, I too hate it when an application reimplements standard UI widgets, or has the "OK" button in the top-left corner or something, but I'm not everybody.

I mean, yes, Apple's invested a _lot_ of money in UI development, but if even if something's great for 99.9% of users, if you're talking about a million users that's still a thousand users that the positioning _isn't_ great for.

Easily skinnable/themeable interfaces make your UI accessible to everyone, as opposed to the average user. It just doesn't make sense to me.
posted by cCranium at 8:20 AM on April 18, 2001


"I would say there is very little corroborating evidence for your "skins" and "themes" definitons."

Well, they're based on a couple bits of logic that work for me, but you can (of course) take them or leave them.

First, skins were the first one of the two I ever saw, and they were called "skins." After a while, people let the skins change layout as well, and it was called "themes."

Second, well... "skins" makes sense for changing the appearance without moving buttons. Think about it. If you cover something with a new skin, it's still shaped the same, but it looks different. Like wearing an animal hide when hunting, or putting new fabric on a chair.

Call themes whatever you want, I guess -- themes, scemes, chrome, faces... my real problem is the people who cry "skins are evil!" when they mean {themes|schemes|chrome|faces}, for the same reason the loss of the "hacker" vs "cracker" distinction bugs me.
posted by CrayDrygu at 11:05 AM on April 18, 2001


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