OSx86 ethical?

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Hawaii Cruiser's picture
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This woman gave me a DVD-R that had Mac OS written on it and wanted to know what it was, so I popped it in one of my Macs and it's an install disc for Kalyway 10.5.2 which is a version of Mac OS X Leopard that can be installed on Intel or AMD PC machines. I'd never heard of it before but I've seen people on Craigslist selling PC's with OS X installed on them. From what I read on the internet, Apple has complained and has filed lawsuits because it violates the EULA. It doesn't sound like their efforts have been overly strenuous,though,and there's sites on the web with forums and downloads of these installs operating blatantly and matter-of-factly. Isn't this just plain and simple piracy? What is the benefit to the Mac community besides selfish reasons. Hackers who get through software security and only leave a graffiti tag to show that they made it present a legitimate justification for their efforts. But what benefit to us is there in such blatant disregard of Apple's copyright found in these OSx86 hacks and their free distribution? What is the value in undermining Apple?

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Hawaii Cruiser's picture
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PS

PS--I'm not asking a rhetorical question. I'm genuinely interested in what the "philosophy" is in this case. And of course, I am a hypocrite as, along with a great many others of us I have used a Mac OS install disc to install on more than one of my machines against the instructions as stipulated in the EULA, so I guess we all have degrees of unlawful behavior. It just seems this piracy is more on the level of skull and crossbones, burn the village down, steal your women.

Dr. Webster's picture
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There is no clear right or wr

There is no clear right or wrong answer in this case. There are merely pros and cons, and it's up to you to see which way the balance leans towards.

Here's my list:

Pros:
-Cheaper than buying a genuine Mac
-Allows you to run OS X on types of hardware Apple doesn't offer (i.e. netbooks)
-Free; of the "free" OS's you can install on a piece of hardware, it has more apps/support than Linux
-Ever so slightly erodes Windows' install base; could potentially drive people who use Hackintoshes to buy real Macs, increasing Apple's "genuine" market share

Cons:
-Installation is a b*tch; not all hardware supported
-Software updates from Apple can brick your Hackintosh
-Violates Apple's EULA and copyright law, and, they argue (but no official court ruling has confirmed), violates the DMCA
-While many argue Apple is primarily a hardware company, they don't give their OS away for free; running a Hackintosh does take *some* money out of Apple's pocket (it's debatable that they're hurt by the lack of this income, seeing as they're sitting on a pile of cash right now)
-Dilutes Apple's "it just works" philosophy; Hackintoshes with half-running hardware may portray a bad image

I'm a sysadmin. I work all day beating Windows boxes into submission. When I get home, I want my computer to just work, and thus I use Macs. Yeah, I could cobble together some generic PC hardware and turn it into a Hackintosh for about half as much as I paid for my iMac, but then I'd just spend my evenings and weekends beating my Hackintosh into submission.

I can understand the point of view of people who justify running a Hackintosh, and if they're willing to accept the consequences for doing so, I wouldn't condemn them. Except for those who try to sell Hackintoshes; I hope Apple wins those lawsuits. It's one thing to make an illegal copy of a DVD; it's something entirely different to make illegal copies of DVDs and sell them.

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Hawaii Cruiser's picture
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There's a guy here who advert

There's a guy here who advertises on Craigslist that for a fee he will come over and install Mac OS on your Dell. The thing is here, though, that it not only violates the EULA, these install discs ARE Leopard, the most current OS. These are in effect, copies of Leopard being distributed for free. Plain and simple, piracy. For one thing, I don't see how anyone gets away with it so blatantly. There's no fear of Apple?

This disc I've got here. How would it be classified? Would it be accurate to call this Kalyway system illegal software? Is it contraband? We're so used to this kind of thing on the internet, we come to look at it lightly. Is it that lightweight?

Eudimorphodon's picture
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From a legal standpoint: Bad

First, just an aside...

Dr. Webster wrote:

Pros:
...
-Free; of the "free" OS's you can install on a piece of hardware, it has more apps/support than Linux

This strikes me as sort of a silly statement. First off, pirated OS X is not a "free OS". It's free as in beer, I guess, but even then it's "free as in the beer I ripped off from the local convenience store". Secondly, as to having more "apps/support" then Linux, certainly there are more commercial applications available for OS X then there are for Linux but let's face it: there's a good chance that someone installing Photoshop on a hackintosh pirated it. And by definition pirated software has no support. A Linux distribution like, I dunno, Ubuntu, has thousands of free and legal programs just a few mouse clicks away, and whole forums full of people willing to give free support. And unlike OS X hackers Linux support is in plain sight and accompanied by real URLs, not dark hints like "Look on your favorite torrent search engine for filename-that-rhymes-with-thataway.dmg..."

Anyway. That's not what we're arguing about here.

Back to OS X, from a legal standpoint, there's almost no gray area. If you download OS X off the Internet or someone hands you a burned DVD of it it's just as illegal to install it and use it as it would be to rip a copy of a music CD or photocopy a book you don't own. Period. It's theft and there's no legal justification for it.

Into the gray areas: some people argue that somehow it's legitimate if they go out and buy a retail copy of OS X, or that if they also own a Mac it's somehow OK to install another copy on their netbook or desktop machine. There are two sections of Apple's shrinkwrap license of OS X that stand out as covering these two arguments:

Quote:

A. This License allows you to install and use one copy of the Apple Software on a single Apple-labeled computer at a time. This License does not allow the Apple Software to exist on more than one computer at a time,and you may not make the Apple Software available over a network where it could be used by multiple computers at the same time. You may make one copy of the Apple Software (excluding the Boot ROM code) in machine-readable form for backup purposes only; provided that the backup copy must include all copyright or other proprietary notices contained on the original.

C. Except as and only to the extent permitted in this License and by applicable law, you may not copy, decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, modify, or create derivative works of the Apple Software or any part thereof.

Starting with provision A:

Well, obviously, the "install and use one copy of the Apple Software" phrase knocks out the "Free OS X for my Netbook because I have a MacBook" argument. This is probably legally enforceable. Microsoft has successfully sued individuals and companies for reusing Windows licenses for years.

So, what if you went out and bought a retail copy or "family pack"? Well... for all the sly idiocy of sticking Apple stickers on Dells you see on the OS X forums any idiot knows in their heart that in a court of law "Apple-labeled" means a machine with an Apple serial number and FCC approval sticker. If the "Apple Machine Only" part of the license is enforceable then it's a violation of civil contract to install it on anything else.

The enforceability of the "Apple-labeled" clause may be in doubt, as there is legal precedent suggesting that it's anti-competitive to lock software to particular platform. (IBM lost a big one back in the mainframe days.) However, complicating the issue is the DMCA. Apple includes a hardware copyright protection system in their machines, which OS X uses to determine if it's running on a genuine Apple machine. And according to the DMCA: "No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title." Further, "... No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that ... is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title". Thus in plain speak it's not only illegal to circumvent Apple's hardware protection, it's illegal to distribute hacks to facilitate working around it.

There are some reverse-engineering exceptions to the DMCA that in theory might negate the penalty for circumventing OS X's copy protection for your own experimental edification, but that still does not reverse the penalty for distributing software tools to allow others to do it.

In the end, from a legal standpoint anyone running OS X on a non-Apple machine is on incredibly thin ice. If Apple *cared* to track down each and every person running OS X on their netbooks and drag them to court chances are pretty good they'd win the first round every time. Get a good enough lawyer to drag your particular case through the requisite appeals and just *maybe* in a few years you'd get the Supreme Court to actually rule on the shrinkwrap and DMCA issues, which they've done a good job avoiding up to now. Just be sure to have a few tens of millions of bucks in legal fees in the bank before getting started.

So, in short, the best legal option you have is microwave that DVD-R for 5 seconds, bust it in half, and forget you ever saw it. The most generous thing you can say about it is *if* you possess an unused retail license of OS X then it might only be "illegal with an asterisk after it". It is by no stretch of the imagination legally free and clear.

Hawaii Cruiser's picture
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Apple's stealth mode?

Now I'm getting confused after reading this:

http://lowendmac.com/ed/fox/09ff/snow-leopard-pounces.html

If I'm reading this guy correctly--and I have my doubts that I am--he's suggesting that Apple is banking on Hackintoshes as a "stealth" inroad on the PC Windows market. He seems to think that Apple is playing to a possible large market in white box PC owners who will buy the full retail version of Snow Leopard to install on their PC's, and this is a direct play for those PC owners who want to upgrade from XP but aren't overly tempted by Vista or Windows 7. Since he acknowledges that Apple is a hardware company, I guess he's implying that those Hackintosh owners will eventually start buying Mac hardware. The key is that Snow Leopard is easy to install on a PC. But is it? It sounds like installing Mac OS on a PC is fairly problem prone, and may necessitate--more often than not?--the assistance of such giveaways as Kalyway, from which Apple gets zilch. Anyway, if this guy's argument has any validity, then Apple is giving a secret thumbs up to people who install Mac OS on PC's, despite the license and copyright violations being perpetrated. ???

I brought this up on the Snow Leopard thread as well:
http://www.applefritter.com/node/24343#comment-59349

Eudimorphodon's picture
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Re: Apple's stealth mode?

Hawaii Cruiser wrote:

Now I'm getting confused after reading this:

http://lowendmac.com/ed/fox/09ff/snow-leopard-pounces.html

If I'm reading this guy correctly--and I have my doubts that I am--

*snip*

If it helps at all in interpreting what that guy says, from what I've read from him I get the distinct impression that he's sort of an idio... wait, if you can't say anything nice...

Let's just say his argument is based on the completely ridiculous premise that there would be any relationship *at all* between how many retail copies of Snow Leopard that go out and how many copies get covertly installed on non-Apple machines. To anyone dumb enough to believe that, well, I have a couple lovely bridges you might be interested in.

I'm sure plenty of people with *Apple Hardware* are going to rip off Snow Leopard. (Buying the non-"family-pack" package when they have more then one computer, borrowing it from a friend, etc.) And yes, most people installing OS X on alien hardware do it via a torrented image. (There are alternative methods involving pre-bootloaders and retail CDs, but the cooked DVD is the easiest method. And it's free, which it what the leeches doing it care about.)

So far as that goes, I'm sure Apple can get a rough count of how many OS X users there are simply by checking how many hits their Automatic Update servers get. So, again the "count the retail boxes" hypothesis is idiotic.

--Peace