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Free Speech at Core of Apple Suit

Something seems rotten when a company like Apple threatens legal action to shut down public discussions of its products. This week, the recipient of such a threat made a pre-emptive strike, filing a lawsuit in a federal court in California seeking a declaratory judgment that the First Amendment applies even to the almighty iPhone.

The lawsuit was filed by lawyers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the law firm Keker & Van Nest in San Francisco on behalf of OdioWorks LLC, operator of BluWiki, a public wiki site, after Apple's lawyers demanded it take down pages that described how to use third-party software on iPhones and iPods. Apple claimed the postings were unlawful under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act because they enabled circumvention of the company's digital rights management system.

OdioWorks complied with Apple's request to take down some of the information. It nevertheless decided to file this lawsuit for reasons explained in a post at Ars Technica:

OdioWorks ... says that it takes the First Amendment rights of its users very seriously. "Companies like Apple should not be able to censor online discussions by making baseless legal threats against services like BluWiki that host the discussion," OdioWorks owner Sam Odio said in a statement. "Wikis and other community sites are home to many vibrant discussions among hobbyists and tinkerers," added EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "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."

EFF's Web site has the text of the complaint and more information about the lawsuit.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on April 28, 2009 at 12:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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