Wiki sues Apple over DMCA claims

Last year, Apple lawyers contacted OdioWorks, the operator of BluWiki.com, claiming that certain user postings violated the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and copyright law.

Last year, Apple lawyers contacted OdioWorks, the operator of BluWiki.com, claiming that certain user postings violated the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and copyright law. Apple threatened to sue Odioworks if the documents weren't removed and OdioWorks complied.

Now, with the assistance of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, OdioWorks is back -- this time with a lawsuit requesting declaratory judgment and injunctive relief.

According to the lawsuit, the documents in question were attempts to reverse engineer iTunesDB, the file that keeps track of songs on an iPod, and Apple's hash value, designed to prevent other software from syncing an iPod.

"I take the free speech rights of BluWiki users seriously," Sam Odio, owner of OdioWorks, said in a release. "Companies like Apple should not be able to censor online discussions by making baseless legal threats against services like BluWiki that host the discussions."

EFF's Fred von Lohmann said Apple is trying to censor people from technical discussions about their products, not protecting copyright interests. "Wikis and other community sites are home to many vibrant discussions among hobbyists and tinkerers. It's legal to engage in reverse engineering in order to create a competing product, it's legal to talk about reverse engineering, and it's legal for a public wiki to host those discussions."

On November 10,2008, counsel for Apple sent an email to Sam Odio, the owner of OdioWorks, claiming that BluWiki was "disseminating information designed to circumvent Apple's FairPlay digitaJ rights management system" and demanding that Mr. Odio take down the discussion on the "Ipodhash" webpage. Apple's attorney wrote in the email that "(t)he DMCA explicitly prohibits the dissemination of information that can be used to circumvent such technology.

Apple's counsel sent another email to Mr. Odio the following day, demanding that he also take down the "Itunes_obfuscation" webpage "for the same reason." Apple's attorney threatened Mr. Odio that "Failure to do so will result in legal liability" and,demanded that he identify his lawyers, if he had any.

Apple's attorney then sent a third email to Mr. Odio on November 13,2008, declaring that the iTunesDB Pages "violate the DMCA."

The lawsuit argues that these claims are dubious at best and asks the court to make a determination that the iTunesDB files are not an encryption device for purposes of DMCA and that there was no copyright infringement or that the publication was fair use.

This sounds like an interesting one. Stay tuned for further details when Apple answers.

[4.28.09: Spelling of the site corrected]