Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wiki Operator Sues Apple Over Bogus Legal Threats

Via EFF Deeplinks -

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against Apple Inc. today to defend the First Amendment rights of an operator of a noncommercial, public Internet "wiki" site known as BluWiki.

EFF and the San Francisco law firm of Keker & Van Nest represent OdioWorks LLC, which runs the BluWiki website. Like many "wiki" platforms, such as Wikipedia, it is open to the public for collaborative authoring and editing on any topic. The site is entirely noncommercial, operated by OdioWorks as a public service.

Late last year, after BluWiki users began a discussion about making some Apple iPods and iPhones interoperate with software other than Apple's own iTunes, Apple lawyers demanded removal of the content. In a letter to OdioWorks, the attorneys alleged that the discussions constituted copyright infringement and a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA's) prohibition on circumventing copy protection measures. Fearing legal action by Apple, OdioWorks took down the discussions from the BluWiki site.

OdioWorks filed the lawsuit today in order to vindicate its right to restore those discussions. Filed in federal court in San Francisco, the suit 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.

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

The discussions on the BluWiki site focused on how hobbyists might enable iPods and iPhones to work with desktop media management software other than Apple's own iTunes software. The discussions were apparently spurred by Apple's efforts prevent the iPod Touch and iPhone from working with competing media management software such as WinAmp and Songbird.

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

For the full complaint in OdioWorks v. Apple Inc.:

For more on this case:


Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Rebecca Jeschke
Media Relations Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation

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