Apple sued for stifling iPod tricks

Apr 28, 2009
Internet rights champions have accused Apple of stifling free speech by bullying OdioWorks into ending online sharing of ways to get iPods to work with music websites other than iTunes. Attorneys from nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) teamed with OdioWorks lawyers to file a lawsuit against California-based Apple in a US federal court.

Internet rights champions have accused Apple of stifling free speech by bullying OdioWorks into ending online sharing of ways to get iPods to work with music websites other than iTunes.

Attorneys from nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) teamed with OdioWorks lawyers to file a lawsuit against California-based Apple in a US federal court.

At the heart of the issue is the BluWiki website that details ways to get Apple's popular iPhones and iPod MP3 players to synchronize music and video files with media at services such as Songbird, Banshee, Rockbox, and Winamp.

BluWiki operates as a "public service" with visitors able to freely edit or modify content on web pages in wiki-style collaborative efforts, according to OdioWorks, which owns the website.

"Hobbyists" at BluWiki shared insights about reverse-engineering Apple software and making it possible for iPod and owners to "manage their media with whatever program they chose," the lawsuit states.

BluWiki terminated the forum late last year after Apple attorneys threatened to sue OdioWorks for spreading word of how to circumvent its technology.

Apple zealously guards iTunes' status as an exclusive content delivery and management tool for iPod and iPhone hardware.

"Apple's legal threats against BluWiki are about censorship, not about protecting their legitimate copyright interests," said EFF senior staff attorney Fred von Lohmann.

"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."

Apple did not respond to an AFP request for comment.

The lawsuit asks the court to declare that BluWiki is doing nothing wrong by hosting talk of how to get iPhones and to work with websites other than and to tell Apple to back off its legal threats.

"I take the free speech rights of BluWiki users seriously," said OdioWorks owner Sam Odio, owner of OdioWorks.

"Companies like should not be able to censor online discussions by making baseless legal threats against services like BluWiki that host the discussions."

(c) 2009 AFP

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User comments : 5

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5 / 5 (4) Apr 28, 2009
Free speach is essiential to the western world. And regradless of the technicalities of reverse engineering Apples digital rights software, you still have a right to discuss it.

As a second point, the whole point of free markets is the ability of products being able to openly compete. I think this could be comparable to the outcries against MS and internet explorer of the beginning of the decade, whereas it's the Ipod and the supplyer of the music this time round. It is Apple abusing it's monopoly and stifling competition. Not the best way to foster innovation in a capitalist nation.
5 / 5 (3) Apr 28, 2009
Instead of attempting to reverse engineer the devices, here's a better idea - just don't buy them in the first place. Why are people so desperate to be kicked around by Apple?
1 / 5 (2) Apr 28, 2009
I neither love or hate Apple. But I can see that they should be free to provide a service and device as a single product and not get sucked into a legal limbo zone of having to supporting other people's services or products and not get accused of anti-competitive monopoly practices using their own service.

I have seen how these cases get argued in court and if Apple doesn't try to stop the practice they become defacto supporters of third party development and then become subject to all the baggage that entails including implied anti-competitive statues.
not rated yet Apr 28, 2009
These cases seem so silly. They can do whatever they want with their product. When people see they can't sync their player with winamp or whatever player they want, they won't use the ipod. I just think of the waste of money being spent on trials like these.
not rated yet Apr 28, 2009
It is interesting to observe that, for a hyper-hyped product, people have to develop 1001 apps, add-ins and work-arounds to have the device perform as they wish..!