Mac Musings

Apple Strongarms Mac Junkie

Inept Host Removes Site

July 24, 2000 - - Tip Jar

It looks like Apple legal finally managed to shut down one site, at least temporarily.Power Mac G4 Cube

Background

The weeks prior to Macworld Expo were full of rumors of a cube-shaped Mac. Some thought it would have handles, some said it would measure 14" (35 cm) in each direction, some thought it would be stackable.

On Tuesday, July 18, on the eve of Macworld Expo, AppleInsider managed to publish photos of the Power Mac G4 Cube. As always, Mac lovers looked at the photos with suspicion. In fact, Mac Junkie wrote AppleInsider's G4 Cube "Photo" a Fraud! on July 18, claiming it was no more than a Photoshop hack - and a flawed one at that.

Fully within his legal rights, Ben Apple included AppleInsider's photo to illustrate his article. As anyone who has followed Web law now knows, once a "trade secret" has been posted to the Internet, it loses legal protection. Since AppleInsider had already posted the image, Mac Junkie was on safe legal ground.

Further, the image was used within the "fair use" restrictions of copyright law, since Apple's article discussed the image and AppleInsider's claims. In fact, he went so far as to claim the image was fraudulent.

Apple Legal Steps In

Just before midnight of July 18, Ben Apple of Mac Junkie received email from cpyrt@apple.com notifying him that the image used in his article infringed on Apple's copyright. As is Apple's normal practice, they also sent a copy of this email to Mac Junkie's host.

Do note it is Apple legal's normal policy to contact a site's host. When they went after Low End Mac for publishing a photo of the graphite iMac DV Special Edition before it was released (like Mac Junkie, we had obtained it from another site and were using it to illustrate news), they contacted my host but not me. My host was kind enough to contact me before action and also forward me a copy of Apple's letter. Ben Apple should be grateful Apple is now contacting the site publisher as well as the site host.

As requested, Apple removed the AppleInsider cube image from his site, notifying Apple Computer of his compliance at 02.00 a.m. on July 19, just hours before Steve Jobs was to unveil the Cube to the world. (I don't know if AppleInsider ever removed their images. They are up at present.)

Although Mac Junkie was acting within the law, they agreed to comply with Apple's request.

Addr.com Drops the Ball (and the Site)

Mac Junkie is hosted by Addr.com, which apparently doesn't realize it is not responsible for the content of the sites it hosts. Further, Mac Junkie's use of the supposedly infringing photo does not violate their web hosting policy.

Regardless, Addr.com chose to wipe the Mac Junkie site at about noon on Wednesday, July 19 - not only the first day of the Expo, but also after Apple Computer had unveiled the Cube to the world. They did this without bothering to ask Ben Apple if he had complied with Apple's request.

As of Friday afternoon (July 21), Addr.com had restored all old site content. Mac Junkie is back in action and ready to move to a more professional hosting company.

Loss of Service and Income

Of course, there's the issue of lost site income. Like most free sites, Mac Junkie generates income based on ad impressions. When the site disappears, so does the ability to deliver on advertising contracts.

Worst of all, the six busiest days for Mac sites every year are the three days of Macworld Expo in January and the three days in July. By taking Mac Junkie down just as other sites were posting reports on the keynote speech and other news from the Expo, Addr.com has caused significant harm, probably in excess of 10% of site income for the month.

Addr.com's actions are unconscionable, to say the least. Pulling a site without contacting the site's owner first is completely unprofessional. The closest analogy I can think of was when one of the larger cable companies stopped serving ABC affiliates for several days earlier this year. But in Mac Junkie's case it was worse than that; nobody could access their site.

I wish Ben Apple the best in pursuing a financial settlement with Addr.com. Since he was within the law when publishing the images in the first place, within the terms of service of Addr.com, had even complied with Apple's request, was paying Addr.com for service, and depended on those contracted service for income, a good lawyer should be able to obtain a very nice settlement.

Let's hope other hosts have more integrity when it comes to dealing with their customers.

Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or Google+, or subscribe to our RSS news feed

Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

Links for the Day

Recent Content