Psystar, the company Apple’s suing for illegally selling non-Apple hardware running OS X, issued a statement yesterday announcing that it had hired a new law firm, and that they’re looking forward to answering Apple’s legal challenges head on.
Included in the statement is an attempt by Psystar to defend its actions.
Everyone here values openness. And that’s how we’re going to fight Apple: in public. We have nothing to hide. We buy hundreds of copies of OS X legally, from retailers like Amazon and Apple itself. We’re probably one of Apple’s biggest customers. Then we install these copies of OS X, along with kernel extensions that we wrote in-house, on computers that we buy and build. Then we resell the package to people like you. That’s it.
Well when you put it that way, it doesn’t really seem like Psystar is doing anything wrong at all. But Psystar’s telling of the story is overly simplistic, if not purposefully misleading.
Psystar supporters argue that software purchasers have the right to do anything they want with legally purchased programs. So if someone wants to put OS X on a PC, or sell the install disc on eBay, or even use use the OS X install disc as a coaster for a Steve Ballmer mug, there’s nothing Apple can legally do to stop them. And you know what, that’s 100% true.
The difference is that Psystar isn’t a 16 year old kid toying around in his basement with OS X and a Dell Mini 9 – it’s a corporation intent on making a profit by selling modified versions of OS X on PC’s. Psystar isn’t a “user”, it’s a re-seller, and as such, it’s roped in by certain laws that simply don’t apply to a guy off the street who picks up a copy of Leopard at Best Buy.
Psystar’s actions damage Apple’s brand, and is essentially false advertising
Imagine going into a bookstore and buying a copy of Harry Potter. After finishing the book a few hours later, you realize that you weren’t that big a fan of the ending. So being the creative type, you write up and print out an entirely new ending, take out the last 50 pages from the original and replace them with your newly written prose. Now imagine setting up a website and selling the new copy by touting the fact that it provides the full Harry Potter experience, but with more action than the original. Now imagine purchasing 10,000 copies of Harry Potter from surrounding bookstores, changing the ending on all of them, and selling them nationwide in order to make an easy profit.
That’s essentially what Psystar is doing with OS X, so you can’t really argue that they can do whatever they want with purchased software when they’re modifying it to their own liking, and selling the new product on a massive scale as an Apple OS X experience. The fact is that it isn’t an Apple OS X experience, a fact evidenced in a number of hands-on reviews of Psystar’s systems.
The Mac OS is tightly integrated with Apple’s hardware in order to produce an optimal user experience. Psystar’s modified version of OS X might run on a PC, but it just doesn’t provide the same polish and user experience as Apple products. Just because Psystar claims it does doesn’t make it true.
A Psystar computer is essentially a modified version of Harry Potter. It might say Harry Potter on the cover, and the first few chapters may indeed be spot on, but taken as a whole, it’s a subpar version of the original.
Admittedly, the above synopsis doesn’t take into account the full-breadth of legal arguments that will arise when litigation begins in a few months, but it serves to illustrate how misleading and simplistic Psystar’s statements truly are.
Psystar likes to advertise itself as the little guy taking on a big evil corporation, but the truth is that it’s a corporation looking to make a quick buck off of the hard work of others. It’s as simple as that.