Intellectual Property Law

Judge Nixes 'Hackintosher' Bid to Put Mac OS X in Cloned Computers

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Apple won a legal battle over the use of its operating system Friday, when a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that Psystar violated copyright law by selling its own cloned computers with Mac OS X.

The clone-maker got around Apple’s restrictions on using the operating system in non-Macintosh machines by installing circumventing software on its own machines rather than altering Mac OS X, reports the Infinite Loop blog of Ars Technica.

But this nonetheless was a “facilitation of circumvention” in violation of Section 1201(a)(2) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, ruled U.S. District Judge William Alsup in the Northern District of California case.

Although Psystar didn’t respond to Infinite Loop’s request for comment, Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation says he doesn’t see it as a death blow to what the legal blog describes as the “hackintosh industry.”

For one thing, companies now generally provide such software separately, so do-it-yourselfers can install an individual workaround rather than pre-installing it in their machines, he says. “On a number of important points, the outcome was driven by Psystar-specific factors, such as Psystar forfeiting one of their strongest defenses by failing to plead it in time.”

The article doesn’t say what that defense was.

Related coverage:

Wall Street Journal (sub. req.): “These Hobbyists Add to Calculators, Multiplying Their Fun”

Updated at 6:30 p.m. to link to related Wall Street Journal article.

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