In its latest move to stem the flow of information about its future product plans, Apple Computer Inc. has put legal pressure on a French Mac site to remove videos that show a version of Mac OS X running on generic Intel-based PCs.
The Mac enthusiast site MacBidouille confirmed to Ziff Davis Internet that Apple sent it a letter asking it to remove the videos.
According to MacBidouille, the videos showed a version of Mac OS X for Intel running on generic PCs, rather than on the Intel-based developer kits Apple made available to developers for a fee.
“I can confirm officially that weve received a cease-and-desist letter from Apples lawyers” at the firm OMelveny and Myers LLP, wrote François Rejeté, one of MacBidouilles co-founders.
“All I can say is that they threatened to take actions to shut down the site if we did not comply,” Rejeté added.
According to an English translation of MacBidouilles account of the encounter with Apple, the Mac maker sent “an amazingly aggressive e-mail asking for the immediate removal of all links to the videos showing OSX x86 booting from non-Apple certified SDK PC.”
There is no mention of the letter requesting removal of any other content, such as articles describing the process of getting OS X for Intel working on a generic PC.
In fact, some other sites that present detailed information, even how-to guides, on modifying OS X to run on commodity hardware, have not seemed to garner Apples attention.
The OSx86 Project, a wiki-based Web site devoted to sharing information on running OS X on various x86-based computers, has not received any contact from Apple or its legal department.
“Our site has yet to be contacted by Apple, although we would gladly entertain any concerns they might have,” said a representative of the site who goes by the handle “Mashugly” and is identified on the site as part of the administration and design of the site.
“Our site has tried hard to toe the legal line, and we will continue to do so,” he added.
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“There are few things that I see as being blatantly legal,” Mashugly said. “For a developer to break their NDA or EULA, for someone to host a pirated copy of OS X, for a group to blatantly break the DMCA—all of these would obviously be illegal.”
Our site has done none of these,” he continued. “We have no NDA or EULA, we host no illegal files—only files that are made and uploaded by individuals—and we do not support the breaking of the DMCA. Our site is different from some as we are just an open forum in which people can talk. As an entity, the OSx86 project itself does not support the use of the pirated OS. People will use the information on our site for that purpose, but we have no control over that.”
The OSx86 Project site has more than 6,000 registered users and gets more than a million hits a day from nearly 40,000 unique visitors.
For another such forum, its popularity was a problem. The Mac OS X for Intel forum on the Concrete Surf Web site saw over a million hits in a 12-hour period. As a result, the sites hosting company shut down the site due to exceeding bandwidth limits.
For most hobbyists accustomed to cobbling together a computer from spare (or high-end) parts and then loading Windows or a flavor of Linux, the closed nature of Mac OS X has long been a point of curiosity and contention. Though Apple has long kept an Intel-based version of Mac OS X in the labs, and Apple makes Darwin, the FreeBSD-based core of Mac OS X, available for free for multiple platforms, the full Mac OS X has long been tied to Apples own Macintosh hardware.
Analysts have often noted that this is because Apple, though known for its operating system, is primarily a hardware company. Whereas sales of Mac OS X 10.4 TKTK brought in over $100 million in revenue in its most recent quarter, that amount represented a fraction of Apples regular quarterly revenues, which range in the billions per quarter.
According to reports across the Web, Apples Intel-based developer kits do include a hardware TCM (Trusted Computing Module), which can be used to lock the operating system to specific hardware. However, individual posts on sites such as OSx86project.org indicate that there are hacks that can get around the TCM.
Whether this means that final versions of Mac OS X for Intel could be installed, or cracked for installing, on generic PCs, remains to be seen—as do the videos removed from MacBidouille.