Want to customise a product that you bought and own? Want to tell your friends about all the cool things you can now do that you couldn’t before? If you’re talking about in iPod or iPhone, you’d better whisper. Or your house will soon be surrounded by Apple legal goons bearing canons and bazookas.
Fortunately, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is trying to change that, by suing Apple for intimidating OdioWorks into shutting down a how-to-improve-your-iPod wiki last year:
Wired: To OdioWorks’ rescue Monday were two San Francisco-based law firms, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Keker & Van Nest. Apple, in its November takedown notice to BluWiki, said the wiki’s discussions amounted to copyright infringement and violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act because the threat discussed methods to circumvent encryption technology… The company also claims jailbreaking and unlocking the iPhone is illegal – positions the U.S. Copyright Office is now mulling.
The deleted BluWiki threads discussed reverse engineering a cheksum hash connected to the iTunesDB file — which is an operating system index to keep track of what music is on an Apple device. Cracking the checksum enables iPods and iPhones to sinc with other desktop management tools like gtkpod, Winamp or Songbird, the EFF says.
The lawsuit (.pdf) against Apple claims no law was broken by BluWiki because the writers of the wiki threads “had apparently not yet succeeded in their reverse engineering efforts and were simply discussing Apple’s code obfuscation techniques,” writes Fred von Lohmann, an EFF attorney. “If Apple is suggesting that the DMCA reaches people merely talking about technical protection measures, then they’ve got a serious First Amendment problem.”