Would-be ‘Mac cloner’ Psystar tries risky allegation against Apple

“In its last legal salvo against Psystar, Apple suggested the Mac clone maker was backed by a silent third party or two. And at this point it better be, because there’s going to be hell to pay when Apple legal is through with it, regardless of how Psystar revises its original complaint. Its antitrust allegations against Apple dismissed, Pystar [yesterday] renewed its copyright claims against the company, alleging the Mac OS is designed to go into a kernel panic if it determines it’s being run on non-Apple hardware,” John Paczkowski reports for All Things Digital.

“That’s an intriguing allegation. Risky though, since it’s also an admission that Psystar has circumvented the technological copyright-protection measures built into OS X,” Paczkowski writes. “Apple contends Psystar has done so illegally, in violation of The Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Psystar says that’s impossible because the kernel panic-forcing code at issue here isn’t a copyright-protection measure.”

Paczkowski writes, “Who’s right? Who knows? But if it’s Apple, then Psystar presumably is guilty of circumventing Apple’s copyright protection systems under the DMCA. And that’s a felony, because Psystar profited from the circumvention.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “James W.” for the heads up.]


  1. Spend 5 minutes with your BFF Google and you’ll notice their are many computers (Dell, Sony, whatever) running OS X and none are exhibiting kernel panics on decidedly “non Apple” hardware.

  2. HP makes printers, and in order to make them work, they create drivers. The drivers only work with HP printers.

    Apple makes computers, and in order to make them work, they create an operating system. The operating system only works with Apple computers.

    Now what is the difference? If Psystar prevails, will hardware manufacturers have to make their drivers work on all devices in the same product category?

    Now you might say that Windows, Linux, and various generic device drivers are designed to be as hardware agnostic as possible, but so what? It doesn’t make HP’s scanner drivers illegal. So how could it make OS X illegal?

    A person can install and run nearly any x86 operating system on a Mac, and there are alternatives to the Apple’s hardware, so where’s the beef?

    I see no substance to Psystar’s complaint.

  3. HP makes printers, and in order to make them work, they create drivers. The drivers only work with HP printers.


    Many other printers use the HP command set; they were designed to work with an HP driver. Of course, not all HP drivers were necessarily written by HP. Does anyone know who wrote all the HP drivers in OS X?

  4. “Would-be ‘Mac cloner’ Psystar tries risky allegation against Apple”

    the title should read: “Would-be ‘Mac cloner’ Psystar has publicly admitted their pure stupidity”

    HEY PSYSTAR, if you are reading this : GIVE UP, no one is going to remember you anyway.


  5. @qka

    Harvey’s analogy with printer drivers may not be the best analogy. Try this one.

    RIM makes the Blackberry OS. This OS only works with Blackberry or other RIM-made phones.

    Sony makes the Playstation OS. This OS only works with Playstation or other Sony-made hardware.

    Apple makes Mac OS X. This OS only works with Macs or other Apple-made hardware.

    So if Psystar prevails, suddenly everyone and their dog could start suing RIM to allow their Blackberry OS to run on their third-party phone hardware, and Sony to allow the Playstation OS to run on their third-party game console.

    I can’t see any judge ruling in Psystar’s favor and creating those kinds of ripple effects through the industry.

  6. Lexmark had not long ago won a case against aftermarket toner manufacturers for building toners that work with Lexmark printers. In order to do that, they had to reverse-engineer encrypted code in Lexmark’s original toners and re-create the same code for their own toners. However, they subsequently lost on appeal. However, the opinions were written by all applate judges, and the majority ones provided nice legal material for future cases.

    Unlike patents, copyright protection cannot be applied to ideas, but only to particular, creative expressions of ideas. Distinguishing between an unprotectable idea and a protectable creative expression is difficult in the context of computer programs; even though it may be possible to express the same idea in many different programs, “practical realities” — hardware and software constraints, design standards, industry practices, etc. — may make different expressions impractical. “Lock-out” codes — codes that must be performed in a certain way in order to bypass a security system — are generally considered functional rather than creative, and thus unprotectable.

    With Mac OS X, it shouldn’t be difficult for Apple to demonstrate the creative expression qualities of their code. Once they accomplish that, they can invoke DMCA.

  7. By Pystar’s logic, I should be allowed to run the operating system from an. XBox on my PS3. Microsoft is monopolizing the XBox OS market…

    Oh yeah, I also want to run the OS from a TiVo on my DVD player, and the OS from a Sony TV on my cheap no-name set.


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