Last year, a noncommercial, public Internet ‘wiki’ site operated by OdioWorks called BlueWiki was shut down after Apple lawyers claimed (pdf) that discussions on the site constituted copyright infringement. BluWiki users shared information about making other music platforms, like Songbird, Banshee, Rockbox and Winamp, workable on the iPhone and iPod instead of Apple’s iTunes.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has now partnered with OdioWorks to file a lawsuit against Apple for stifling free speech on BluWiki in order to restore the discussions on the site. Apple is obviously trying to maintain iTunes as the exclusive platform on the iPod and iPhone, but hobbyists and tinkerers should be able to share their thoughts on community sites like BluWiki.
If users are sharing programming code that belongs to Apple, then maybe there is cause for complaint. Furthermore, it seems that BluWiki was being used to divulge how to circumvent Apple’s digital rights management technology. In the lawsuit, Apple is being accused of censorship, but the underlying issue is that they don’t want any competition for iTunes.
“I take the free speech rights of BluWiki users seriously,” said Sam Odio, owner of OdioWorks. “Companies like Apple should not be able to censor online discussions by making baseless legal threats against services like BluWiki that host the discussions.”
If there are other music programs that deserve to have a fair chance at the market, then perhaps Apple shouldn’t find devious ways to keep them off iPhones and iPods. They should simply make iTunes better than the competition. Now, not only is it known that there’s a group wanting to make iPods interoperable with other software, but Apple is getting bad publicity. As usual, Apple has yet to comment on the lawsuit.
Would you prefer to use other music software on your iPhone? Is it proper that Apple should try to take advantage of their market share to push iTunes onto users who wouldn’t necessarily use it?