Psystar Stops Selling Mac

Donald Campbell | December 8, 2009

There is some news in the world of Apple OS X and its End User License Agreement, or EULA.

Psystar — a small company created in April 2008 to produce third-party hardware capable of running slightly modified versions of Apple’s Macintosh OS X operating system — has pulled all of its “hackintosh” offerings from its website.

This occurrence seems to be one of the last steps in an ongoing battle between Psystar and Apple.

Apple took Psystar to court, arguing that creating and marketing its Mac OS X-enabled products infringed upon Apple’s stated license agreements, which strictly forbid running Macintosh OS X on hardware not produced by Apple Computer, Inc.

An article published on Dec. 1 in OSNews, an online computer magazine, reported that Apple Computer and Psystar successfully entered into an agreement to settle court proceedings.

Apple certainly came out the victor, as Psystar agreed to stop all sales of its “hackintosh” machines.

Until the agreement, Psystar’s website proudly displayed its line of computers, including the OpenDuo, the Open(Q) and the Open(7).

Psystar even went so far as to create an enterprise-level, rac mount server for heavy processing.

All Psystar machines could be preloaded with Microsoft Windows, Ubuntu Linux or — controversially — Apple’s Macintosh OS X.

Non-Apple devices that run Apple operating systems are commonly referred to as Macintosh “clones” or hackintoshes.

Psystar truly angered the beast that is Apple by claiming to sell large quantities and making OS X commercially available on non-Apple hardware.

Before Psystar, an interested user would have to turn to an expansive community of developers who “hacked” OS X to load it on, well, say, a Dell.

Apple turned its annoyance into a legal matter, bringing a suit against Psystar in California. Apple pointed out that the Apple End User License Agreement forbids the modification of the OS X code in order to run it on non-Apple hardware.

Apple argued that by selling machines (total sales ending up around 760) Psystar repeatedly violated its license agreement.

Psystar fought the accusation but was ultimately required to pay $2.675 million to Apple, according to an article published by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes on ZDNet’s online news portal.

So what does this indicate about the world of Apple clones?

Can Apple “breathe easier,” assuming that its mission to force absolute obedience to its license agreement has been fully successful?

As with many rules put forth by computer manufacturers and software developers, Apple will continue to have a problem with programmers subverting its licenses.

Psystar, as part of its settlement, was not explicitly required to stop sales of a piece of software it developed to allow users to modify Macintosh OS X for loading on non-Apple hardware.

Thus, the software, called Rebel EFI, is still available on Psystar’s website.

The world of Mac cloning, without the help of Psystar, is also alive and well. Apple might claim victory over Mac cloning because it removed a proper corporation from the mix, but it will undoubtedly see unauthorized versions of Mac OS X show up on non-Apple hardware, despite the settlement.

Psystar appears to be legally done for: The settlement comes after what Thom Holwerda of OSNews called a “massive win” for Apple.”

Psystar was found to have violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a copyright law designed to protect intellectual property from those who circumvent measures taken by the authors of the intellectual property to prevent acts they decide are unsuitable.

In other words, Apple decided that running Macintosh OS X on non-Apple hardware is unsuitable.

It added a license agreement to inform users of this, as well as bits of code to prevent users from effortlessly subverting the license agreement.

Psystar ran afoul of the DMCA by circumventing Apple’s efforts without Apple’s express permission.

Some more news might come out of the Psystar suit, as the judgment and settlement were in regards to Apple’s Leopard operating system.

A different suit, which Apple took in Florida, references its newest operating system incarnation, OS X Snow Leopard.

Although it seems unlikely that the outcome will be significantly different, perhaps some more interesting news points will squeeze their way out.