Apple Hit with Censorship Lawsuit

 
 
By Roy Mark  |  Posted 2009-04-28
 
 
 

Apple's shutdown demand to a noncommercial, public Internet wiki discussion on making iPods and iPhones compatible with media management software such as WinAmp and Songbird was a violation of the users' First Amendment rights, according to an April 27 lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The EFF is representing OdioWorks, which publishes and operates a wiki platform known as BluWiki for collaborative authoring and editing on any subject. Last November, Apple threatened legal action against OdioWorks if the company did not remove certain pages from BluWiki carrying a discussion on how to reverse-engineer iPods and iPhones so they can interoperate with software other than Apple's own iTunes software.

Apple claimed the BluWiki discussions constituted copyright infringement and a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's prohibition on circumventing copy protection measures. OdioWorks, fearing Apple's legal liability threats, took down the discussions from the BluWiki site.

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

OdioWorks' lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that the discussions do not violate any of the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions and do not infringe any copyrights owned by Apple.

"Apple's legal threats against BluWiki are about censorship, not about protecting their legitimate copyright interests," EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann said in a statement. "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."


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