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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In defense of Ipodhash

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The author of the Ipodhash project recently sent me an email explaining why Ipodhash does not violate Apple's DMCA copyright. I thought I'd republish it here. I can't vouch for the accuracy of his defense, but it sounds like an interesting argument.


The iPod hash is added to iTunes database to protect it against
modification by third party utilities (to prevent third party
utilities from synching with iPod or iPhone). Now there are a few
points

1) iTunesDB does not fall under the category of copyrighted material.
The iPod hash protects the database. A database is not copyrighted
information. It is created on the user iPhone/iPod by iTunes, and
iTunes adds this hash to make sure that no other application can
modify the database. But that does not make the "database" a
copyrighted material.

2) The hash protects the database from writing, i.e. Thirdparty
applications can still read the database in presence of this hash.
DRM schemes usually prevent reading by thirdparty applications. Hence
this scheme does not fall under DRM protection.

3) The DMCA does not outlaw dissemination of information, which could
lead to circumvention devices.

4) We are doing this for interoperability with other platforms (such
as linux). DMCA explicitly allows reverse engineering for
compatibility purposes.

Hence I believe that there was nothing illegal, about the project.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

EFF agrees to represent BluWiki, responds to Apple

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Great news: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has agreed to represent BluWiki regarding Apple's takedown request of the Ipodhash project. The EFF has also published a formal response to Apple's cease and desist email: Apple Confuses Speech with a DMCA Violation.

Also, after writing a public letter to the author of the project, he has contacted us. He sent me an extensive defense of his project that explains why he believes it doesn't violate the DMCA. I hope to publish it as soon as I can get his permission.

Right now our biggest fear is that after we contest this issue, Apple might go to Slicehost or Namecheap and slap them with takedown notices for my accounts. If they do that, all of my sites could be forced offline, including BluWiki. I'm currently trying to contact them to at least make them aware of this issue.

I look forward to working with the EFF and Apple to resolve this issue and get the Ipodhash project back online :)

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Support free speech, find author of Ipodhash

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On the 14th Ian Ramage of O'Melveny & Myers LLP contacted me regarding the Ipodhash project (hosted at BluWiki). They represent Apple and requested that I take the Ipodhash project offline.

Because BluWiki is a free service and doesn't have much cash or a legal team, I swallowed my pride and complied. Since then, the story has been picked up by slashdot and arstechnicia. Both sites linked to the page where I asked for legal assistance from anyone who has experience in these issues.

I've received a flood of emails from interested individuals who want to help. Most importantly, I was contacted by Fred von Lohmann from the EFF. They're currently evaluating whether they will represent us against any potential Apple litigation. This would be great, because it will enable BluWiki to continue to host the project while working with EFF to address Apple's concerns.

However, before the EFF commits to representing us against Apple, they want to speak to the author of the Ipodhash project on BluWiki. I'm posting this public plea hoping that the author, or someone who knows the author, might read it.


Plea to the author of IpodHash:
Please contact Fred at the EFF. Fred is looking to protect your right to free speech online. But he can't do so if we don't work with him. Because Fred has expressed interest in representing both you and BluWiki, all communication is confidential and protected under the attorney-client privilege. Communication with Fred can not be released in court.

If you do not contact Fred, and the EFF does not represent us, we will be forced to comply with all of Apple's demands. If Apple chooses to litigate against us, we will probably exhaust all funds in our defense. Out of money, BluWiki could ultimately be forced offline. This would be one more small step backwards in the fight for the right to free speech.

Fred's phone number is +1 415 436 9333 x123 and his email is fred@eff.org. You can find his PGP key here.

I sincerely hope that you contact the EFF so that we can restore this project and work with Apple in a way that does not violate BluWiki's founding principle: giving everyone the tools to express themselves online without censorship.

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