Mac Software Limits Don’t Violate Copyright

     (CN) – Apple did not misuse the copyright to its OS X operating system by requiring users to run the software only on Macintosh computers, the 9th Circuit ruled Wednesday, affirming a permanent injunction against an “open computer” competitor.
     Florida-based Psystar introduced a line of Macintosh clones called “Open Computers” in 2008 that came with a copy of Apple’s OS X operating system. Psystar shipped the clones with a copy of the software already installed, along with an unopened copy of Mac OS X, which the company had purchased from Apple or Amazon.
     “The unopened copy enabled Psystar to maintain it had purchased a copy of Mac OS X for each computer it sold, but the computer actually was to run on the copy of the altered Mac OS X installed in the Psystar computer,” according to the ruling.
     Apple filed federal complaints against Psystar in San Francisco and Miami for copyright infringement, unfair competition and violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
     The Florida case was filed in 2009, a year after filing in California, because Psystar had launched a new line of Open Computers when Apple released its new OS X Snow Leopard that year.
     Psystar filed a counterclaim in California that said Apple misused its copyright by requiring users to run OS X only on Apple computers.
     U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled that Psystar had infringed on Apple’s copyrights and violated the DMCA when it copied OS X for use on its Open Computers, and he enjoined the company from doing so in the future. The judge also rejected the company’s claims that Apple had misused its copyright.
     A three-judge panel of 9th Circuit judges unanimously affirmed the ruling Wednesday, finding that Apple had not misused its copyright because it had not attempted to stifle creativity or competition.
     “Psystar contends that … barring use of the Apple software on non-Apple computers impermissibly extends the reach of Apple’s copyright and constitutes misuse,” Judge Mary Schroeder wrote for the San Francisco-based appeals panel. “We conclude that the District Court correctly ruled that Apple had not engaged in copyright misuse.”
     “This is principally because its licensing agreement was intended to require the operating system to be used on the computer it was designed to operate, and it did not prevent others from developing their own computer or operating systems,” she added. “These licensing agreements were thus appropriately used to prevent infringement and control use of the copyrighted material.”
     The panel also ruled, however, that Alsup did provide an inadequate basis to let Apple seal large parts of the record based on confidentiality concerns.

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