Apple is being accused of stifling free speech; again

Apple is being accused of stifling free speech; again

Summary: In November 2008 Virginia-based OdioWorks, operator of BluWiki a non-commercial wiki that promises publishing without censorship, received a takedown notice from Apple demanding that it remove user postings about how to “write software that can sync media to the latest versions of the iPhone and iPod Touch.”Here's the backstory courtesy of MacBlogz:Slashdot explains: “Apple has sent a DMCA takedown notice to the IpodHash project, claiming it circumvents their FairPlay DRM scheme.

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In November 2008 Virginia-based OdioWorks, operator of BluWiki a non-commercial wiki that promises publishing without censorship, received a takedown notice from Apple demanding that it remove user postings about how to “write software that can sync media to the latest versions of the iPhone and iPod Touch.”

Here's the backstory courtesy of MacBlogz:

Slashdot explains: “Apple has sent a DMCA takedown notice to the IpodHash project, claiming it circumvents their FairPlay DRM scheme. Some background: Apple first added a hash to the iTunesDB file in 6th-gen iPods, but it was quickly reverse-engineered. They changed it with the release of iPhone 2.0 and a project was started to reverse the new hash, but wasn’t successful yet. My guess is Apple used the same algorithm as FairPlay for the new hash, so Apple could use the DMCA to prevent competing apps like Songbird and Banshee from talking to iPods/iPhones. BTW, don’t tell Apple, but the project uses a wiki, so the old page versions from before the takedown are still there.”

EFF explains: At the heart of this is the iTunesDB file, the index that the iPod operating system uses to keep track of what playable media is on the device. Unless an application can write new data to this file, it won’t be able to “sync” music or other content to an iPod. The iTunesDB file has never been encrypted and is relatively well understood. In iPods released after September 2007, however, Apple introduced a checksum hash to make it difficult for applications other than iTunes to write new data to the iTunesDB file, thereby hindering an iPod owner’s ability to use alternative software (like gtkpod, Winamp, or Songbird) to manage the files on her iPod.

Two San Francisco-based law firms, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Keker & Van Nest have announced that they are taking up the case and representing BluWiki.

Apple claims that the BluWiki discussions amounted to copyright infringement and violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act because the thread discussed methods to circumvent encryption technology.

The EFF's Fred von Lohmann contends that no laws were 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... If Apple is suggesting that the DMCA reaches people merely talking about technical protection measures, then they’ve got a serious First Amendment problem.

Full disclosure: This case is near and dear to my heart because Apple sued my ISP in 2004 for access to my email in the precident-setting Apple V. Does case. The EFF represented me in the case in which we prevailed in 2006.

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Topics: Collaboration, Apple, Hardware, Mobility

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  • If iTunes was not garbage and ...

    iTunes is slow. Even on desktops, it is simply slow. Everything from search to menu clicks there is always just a 1-2 second delay where nothing happens. (Maybe on OS-X it works well). That can be lives around except that it mandates (you can work around this) the worst piece of insecure garbage software called QuickTime. That's a deadly pair, I don't care what OS you are running.

    Apple would be so much further ahead of the game if they licensed WinAmp and started with it as a base for their player. Toss in their complete disdain for anyone daring to use it with Linux and it just leads to Apple management looking life fascists. The good thing is, Apple will be as successful as the original DVD encyption standard at mandating people use their purchased hardware by Apple's rules.

    TripleII
    TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
    • Yeah....

      I avoid iTunes and recommend to people to do so. I have seen more problems out of itunes than practically any other software in the past 10 years. For example on Vista and XP if you try uninstalling it there is a good chance that it will delete your CD/DVD from listing in explorer and my computer. Luckily I have the reg hack to fix it and have used in 5 times in the past few months on 5 different systems. I doubt its just luck that this occured to me 5 out of 5 times.

      This stuff should make people realize that Apple is no better than anyone else and may be even worse with stuff like this and trying to get ahold of someones emails like that is just crazy. But they will get a pass from the media and with all the braindead people out there that have no ability to think on their own feet. They could sell a brick with an apple logo on it and the news would tout it as a great product and all the fanboys would buy it.
      OhTheHumanity
    • And Jason wonders why so many have disdain for Apple...

      myself included.

      Actually, I'm starting to believe Jason is had his fill of Apple's proprietary ways.

      Now if he'd just take that Dell mini he is so fond of and show how well it runs with Ubuntu Linux 9.04 Netbook Remix...........

      ;)
      no_zd_user_name
    • @TripleII

      Apple didn't originally write iTunes.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SoundJam_MP

      Axsimulate
      • They sure seem determined though.

        I have brought up for years that they should take a BSD media player and fork it into Quicktime. iTunes could probably stand the same rewrite. It isn't the same security problem Quicktime is but it really isn't a very good media player.

        I wonder if the total cost to write both from scratch would have been much less than the constant rework to fix the hundreds of zero day exploits (mostly with QT).

        TripleII
        TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
  • Revolt

    there should be law defending civil right that goes way higher that corporation right .

    Corporation should bend under civil power not the other way around ......
    Quebec-french
    • It's the law of slush funds down here...

      Have enough money to grease the wheels, you can pay to remove as many rights as you want. The original DMCA is a perfect example of breaking copyright law in the constitution to serve a corporate need/greed.

      It only gets worse now with special interests in full attack mode and getting willing politician$ everywhere they seek them.

      Yes it is a jaundiced view, and most politicians probably want/try to do the right thing, the problem is the rotten seeds. Want an example, GE payback of $Billions soon to happen on the green tech front.

      TripleII
      TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
      • Yep....

        I am a GE shareholder and feel like dumping the stock, but its worth nothing right now and would lose alot of moeny of that. I have stated my concerns to them but they are not going to listen, even if 100,000 people did and they probably have. They are playing nice with this administration so they can reap the benefits of the carbon credits and also they want more government money.

        Go check out NBC news and you will see the rooster is eating right out of Obama's hand. Just ask Rick Santelli how they made him go to some training after he called for the tea parties which actually came to fruision, oh but yeah I forgot the media is not telling anyone that, dumb me. Just seems scary to me that one of the largest news organizations is in bed with the president. But its alright because this is change and change is always good, right?
        OhTheHumanity
    • @Quebec-french

      You might as well get used to it. This has been going on since man started to track history. The old way to shut somebody up was to hang them, behead them or any other effective method. Now days it's lawsuits.
      Axsimulate
    • @axsimulate

      I have some trouble with that point of view .

      a 100 years ago black people didnt had right
      50 years ago hitler would have conquer the world

      The only thing that we need is a good politician like Obama to maybe put back some strength in general population .....

      If you have 200 million people chasing corporation executive ....

      But the quickest solution is a few excellent laws again corporation and that its .....

      Impose to wrong doer and support those who behave according to population will period...

      If they wanna leave do so will nationalize
      Quebec-french
      • I like you. You make me laugh.

        Your "good politician" has appointed RIAA lawyers and DCMA supporters to some of the highest judicial positions in the federal government.
        Scubajrr
      • Huh?

        "The only thing that we need is a good politician like Obama to maybe put back some strength in general population ....."

        Obama is about control, not putting the strength back into the people. His vision is a hub and spoke type governance while it should be a mesh typology. We have too many laws already and so many that overlap. This kind of governing takes away individuals responsibility and moves it to washington D.C. so all the rest of us can care more about you than yourself. More like a weird society than one that actually works right. Go ask those students in Washington DC why Obama removed their vouchers so they have to go back to the worst public school system in America. Its about keeping you down and uneducated in this country thats how these politicians gain power and it is working for Obama. John Adams stated the fall of freedom and liberty would be lack of education, and well take a look at our schools, they wreak of foulness and you will not see Obama try to improve it. Local control of our schools will bring them back, but the hub and spoke is at work and at full throttle.
        OhTheHumanity
  • RE: Apple is being accused of stifling free speech; again

    Apple is run by dictators who do not want people to think on their own.
    MarkWB
  • No Complaints...

    If you cried about the baby shaker the other day then there is no reason you should complain about this. It's amazing how people pick and choose what they want to consider free speech.
    ~Obelix~
    • Baby shaker?

      That was just a dumb as hell app and Apple shouldn't have even let it up on itunes. I mean is society so dumb that we need a freakin app to show that shaking a baby can kill them or cause brain damage, and if you loaded that app you're a retard. If Apple is about free speech then how come they reject other apps before they even make it. Looks like Apple picks and chooses so your argument falls flat on its face, its all about profit man, get a grip. The progressives like Wilson squashed natural law(our founders idea of law) in the early 19th century and its been chipping away ever since. Now we are back to more progressives as Hillary stated she was. If I remember correctly they were all about genetisism too, thats some scary stuff.
      OhTheHumanity
      • Huh?

        Which way are you going with that comment:

        "That was just a dumb as hell app and Apple shouldn't have even let it up on itunes. "
        So are fart apps and about 80% of everything on the app store, but just because something is dumb doesn't mean it get neglected from the 1st ammendment freedoms.

        "Looks like Apple picks and chooses so your argument falls flat on its face, its all about profit man, get a grip. "
        Huh? I was stating they curtail free speech. SO you agree or don't??

        My complaint is all the people that whined about baby shaker and wanted it banned are now complaining that apple stifles free speech. They can't have it both ways and neither can your comment. So please take a stance. And save your conspiracies for infowars/prisonplanet, or whatever media goons the children are listening to these days.
        ~Obelix~
        • I was not one of them...

          That called for the babyshaker app to be removed. My point was Apple screens these apps like crazy and they let this one through? I just think its the most retarded app I have seen yet.

          Not sure where the conspiracy was, go read some factual history books and you will see the truth. You know it was Woodrow Wilson that segregated the military after it was already fully integrated and he was a progressive. My point is that some people claim to be one thing but are completely opposite in reality. I like freedom and personal responsibility and the progressives and liberals of this country hate that and want me to think like them and only say things they agree with, so think what you will about what i said, and remember don't be a sucker.
          OhTheHumanity
          • Freedom

            "I like freedom and personal responsibility".


            What a coincidence ! I TOO like freedom and personal responsibility !

            Now the real question. Do you respect other peoples' freedom?

            Do you accept that they have the right to live their own lives without being
            harrassed?

            How do you feel about laws that protect minorities from discrimination?

            Because from the progressive viewpoint, we must all hang together or we'll
            surely hang separately.

            "want me to think like them and only say things they agree with"

            Well, no. You can think any dang thing you like.

            You can also say whatever you like as long as you aren't trying to start a riot or
            promote Treason.

            No shouting "FIRE" in a crowded theater, for example.

            We can't suppress the rights of others and expect to keep our own.
            Jkirk3279
  • I may be on the wrong wave length... but insn't

    The Pirate Bay's argument that it's just a conduit for people
    to share information and files. It doesn't believe that it is
    breaking any laws by allowing people to potentially
    download copyrighted info and files. It believes it's just
    the messenger.

    I'm neither here nor there with what Apple is doing, but I
    do see a correlation between the complaints from
    companies about TPB and Apple's complaint against
    BluWiki in facilitating people to break copyright and DCM
    laws.

    BluWiki said itself, it does not censor what is put on it's
    site and believes in free speech. Does this just mean it
    doesn't want to accept any responsibility for what it does.
    With freedom comes responsibility. One can't have it both
    ways.
    A Grain of Salt
  • Don't like it - don't buy it.

    There are plenty of other brands to buy
    and, hopefully, you'll respect any
    copyrighted material that might be
    included with that product.

    Don't like Apple's products then buy
    something else. Trying to break into their
    systems or ignore their copyrights is on
    the dumb side in my opinion. As Apple
    has a ton of cash there will be law firms
    standing in line for any type of legal
    action - no big deal on that.
    Ken_z