• Psystar's Apple Lawsuit Suffers Major Setback

    Psystar's ongoing legal battle against Apple may have been struck a mortal wound on Saturday with a ruling from the U.S. District Court. Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California ruled that Psystar infringed Apple's copyright to the Mac OS X operating system, and violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by modifying the OS to run on non-Apple hardware.

    Rudy and Robert Pedraza went into business selling Mac OS X on non-Apple hardware. The Miami brothers won themselves notoriety by not only countersuing Apple after being sued by them for copyright infringement but also claiming that the hackintosh community doesn't know what they're doing. The company has tried every trick in the book - and many that are not - to keep their case alive, including releasing its own bootloader and filing bankruptcy (which didn't work).

    The defeat came after both companies had requested summary judgment, which, essentially, asks the judge for a flat up or down ruling and asserts that enough evidence has been produced to make or break the case. The judge not only found in Apple's favor, but said that Psystar had improperly pled its case.

    One of the key matters at issue was the argument made by Psystar that buying a copy of Mac OS X software makes you the owner of that software with the right to sell it so long as no additional copies are made. Apple's copyright agreement makes the person who pays for the software a licensee, not an owner, of the software, and so Apple's restrictions on how the software may be used still apply.

    Interestingly, a copyright expert who was cited by Psystar in its argument saw this approach (in a case defending a user who had resold Autodesk software on eBay) as an attack not only on copyright, but also on the whole idea of free and open source software (FOSS), which relies on agreements restricting how copies can be made.

    Indeed, while a ruling that a delivery of a copy of software is a sale of the copy would seriously injure the software industry, it would also eviscerate open-source software which, for many companies, involves delivery of copies subject to restrictions that allow its redistribution only under stated conditions.
    The open-source-oriented legal site Groklaw agreed with this take on the Psystar lawsuit, seeing it as "an attack on the GPL [the GNU Public License under which much open-source software such as Linux is provided] and on FOSS, using Apple as a smokescreen… hoping that the FOSS community wouldn't see what was happening until it was too late."

    While this is an enormous blow to Psystar's case, still more issues remain to be decided such as breach of contract and trademark infringement. A hearing is scheduled for December 14 on those matters.

    image via Swordmaker
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