Why does Apple get a free ride?

by Mathew on September 26, 2007 · 61 comments

I really don’t want to get into the usual pissing match that seems to occur whenever someone fails to bow down and worship Steve Jobs’ every move, but I can’t help myself. Why aren’t we seeing more outrage — okay, even a little bit of outrage — about the news that Apple twisted the arm of some guy’s ISP because he was uploading the code embedded in his iPod Touch’s memory.

apple-tstripes.jpgAccording to several reports, this guy was in the process of uploading some of the code stored in his broken iPod’s flash memory, and all of a sudden his Internet provider cuts him off — at the request of Apple. As far as those who have been writing about it can gather, Apple was able to move so quickly because it has been monitoring IRC groups devoted to hacking the Touch.

When DVD Jon hacks the DVD encoding scheme, or the Blue-Ray encoding scheme, or any of the half-dozen other things he has hacked and released into the wild — something that contravenes copyright rules just as much as what the iPod hacker was doing does — everyone cheers because he is fighting The Man, and information wants to be free, etc. etc.

But when The Man happens to be Steve Jobs, all of a sudden people seem to start singing a different tune. Meanwhile, in other Apple=hardass news, there’s this. Now it seems that we all need to add the term “bricking” to our vocabulary.

  • rocco

    @rick
    “there aren’t entire online groups dedicated to reverse engineering other phones”

    maybe because other phones OSes developers provide a SDK?

  • http://www.ericsbinaryworld.com ERM

    I have no idea what their problem is. Hacking yields more 3rd party apps which yields more customers. Or do they like being the little guy so much that they hate customers?

  • Thought

    Why is there so much emotion injected into these stories? It’s quite simple – it’s a game of “cat and mouse” – as Steve Jobs recently said at the UK release of the iPhone. In this case, the “hacker” in question should have kept his mouth shut about his progress and his intent until the code had successfully propagated to a number of websites or into the torrent space. I am/was pretty impressed with the AwkwardTV approach – which was to sure the knowledge of hacking the AppleTV rather than real bits. This proved to avoid legal hassles for the website and allowed individuals to hack up their own systems to their hearts’ content.

  • Dennis

    In this particular instance, Apple was doing exactly what I’d expect any company to do. This wasn’t DVD Jon posting a hack of his own creation, or the results of real reverse engineering (e.g. work-alike code). This was someone who was going to post unmodified code created by Apple directly — it’s exactly like posting a full copy of Mac OS X, which I would think most people would realize is well within Apple’s rights to got after.

  • http://www.nomorestars.com/ Tom Boucher

    So by your logic if someone found the source code to OS X and posted it to the web (secure or not) for other people to get access too and Apple issued a take down notice that’s evil empire activity as well?

    That’s pretty much what was done with the iPod Touch firmware.

  • Mathew

    I’d just like to point out that this is nothing like uploading the entire source code for OS X to a public website — what Martyn was doing (as I understand it) was uploading to a secure server some of the code that was stored in the flash memory on the device, which is not even close to being the entire source code for the operation of the iTouch.

  • http://webtvfree.blogspot.com Morgan

    @Anthony
    He’s Matthrew Ingram and I’m pretty sure that he writes for the Globe and Mail, oh snap beotch!

  • Jason

    @Tom Boucher…

    http://www.opensource.apple.com/darwinsource/

    There you go. :)

  • Necol

    It’s acting like Microsoft and Wal-Mart, but everyone supports it’s strategy & tactics because it’s been the “underdog” for so many years and built a grass-roots ‘cult’ure — brainwashed by Steve Jobs.

    hmmm…. the name of a guy in Texas (David) rings a bell.

    LOL. It’s just really — REALLY — funny to watch.

  • Rick Turtle

    You’re not seeing an outcry against this because the majority of Apple users are soccer moms, stoned college kids, artsy fartsy hippies and other types that don’t pay attention nor give a shit about “hacking the itouch.”

    Personally, I feel apple computers are made and best suited for people who don’t want to bother with what is going on “behind the scenes,” and never really wonder if they can make the thing do something out of the ordinary/something it wasn’t originally intended to (ie: improvements/hacking).

    Apple makes boatloads of money off of these people because these are people who just want their stuff to work.

  • http://www.vqvgroup.com Cheryl’s Office

    I’m not sure why I would want to risk buying a iPod touch or iPhone that has been hacked our unlocked. I guess those that do are buying something they can characterize as unique.

    I’ll just keep my iPod touch an original and ordinary.

    Apple iPod touch

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