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Are takedowns killing innovation in America or just driving it "offshore"

Fri, 13th July 2012, 23:36

Kim Dotcom of MegaUpload fame has taken to twitter seeking recommendations for web hosts in Europe, Asia, and South America. His tweets clearly state by suppressing innovation the US government and Hollywood will cost US based web hosting companies cash.  It now appears that Apple actions may have a similar chilling effect.

Last month Wired covered the emergence of businesses selling access to iOS developer betas prior to their official launch. Apple offers these developer betas to registered iOS developers who pay the annual registration fee of $99. Some enterprising individuals have turned around and started selling their 100 possible device slots to users looking to install the iOS betas prior to their official launch.

Apple allows registered iOS developers to activate up to 100 unique device IDs (or UDIDs) for their account, an essential tool for testing apps on multiple devices. Once registered with Apple, the activated device is also able to run pre-release versions of iOS, though developers are forbidden from sharing pre-release software outside their own team.

Ignoring these warnings, activation services charge a small fee to add a customer’s device to their developer accounts. When they hit the 100-device limit, they just register a new account with Apple.

As the Wired story noted, it’s gone on for a few years with no intervention from Apple. That nonchalant attitude has dissipated however.

Within the last month Apple has issued DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) to numerous companies, including takedown notices to Fused, a Seattle-based web hosting company, in relation to activation websites it hosts, according to Fused CEO David McKendrick.

The DMCA takedown notice is a formal demand from a copyright holder to demand removal of allegedly infringing content from the Internet.

Apple claims in the notices that they breached its developer agreement or facilitated copyright infringement. "This is definitely a new move on Apple's part," McKendrick was quoted as saying by the BBC.

Apple clearly prohibits developers from providing pre-release software: 

Within their Developer Program License Agreement, and on its Developer Portal, that membership can be terminated if a developer provides pre-release Apple Software to anyone other than registered employees, contractors, or others with a demonstrable need to know or use the software to build and test applications. 

Apple adds that unauthorized distribution is prohibited, and may be subject to both civil and criminal liability. 

On a somewhat unrelated but similar note, last week the European Union published a judgement stating that software vendors cannot prevent customers from selling the licenses to software they no longer wish to use, even if the licence agreement prohibits it. In part  the directive states: 

Where the copyright holder makes available to his customer a copy – tangible or intangible – and at the same time concludes, in return form payment of a fee, a licence agreement granting the customer the right to use that copy for an unlimited period, that rightholder sells the copy to the customer and  thus exhausts his exclusive  distribution right. Such  a transaction involves a transfer of the right of ownership of the copy. Therefore, even if the licence agreement prohibits a further transfer, the rightholder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy. 

 

Wired also mentions a number of websites in its story:

Domain:ACTIVATEMYIOS.COM
Status: Unavailable
Name Server: NS1.SIRIHUB.NET
Name Server: NS2.SIRIHUB.NET
Updated Date: 15-jun-2012

iOS UDID Registrations is being redirected to:
Domain Name: REACHHIGHERTUTORING.COM
Status: ok
Name Server: NS1.IPAGE.COM
Name Server: NS2.IPAGE.COM
Updated Date: 20-may-2012
Creation Date: 20-may-2012

Domain Name: ACTIVATEMYUDID.COM
Status: Unavailable
Name Server: NS1.MEDIATEMPLE.NET
Name Server: NS2.MEDIATEMPLE.NET
Updated Date: 13-apr-2012

Domain Name: UDIDREGISTRATION.COM
Status: Unavailable
Name Server: NS11.JUSTHOSTME.NET
Name Server: NS12.JUSTHOSTME.NET
Updated Date: 16-apr-2012

Domain Name: INSTANTUDIDACTIVATION.COM
Status: Unavailable
Name Server: NS1.HOSTABLE.US
Name Server: NS2.HOSTABLE.US
Updated Date: 01-jul-2012

A quick Google produces some others!

Domain Name: IOS6ACTIVATION.COM
Status: ok
Name Server: DAVE.NS.CLOUDFLARE.COM
Name Server: GINA.NS.CLOUDFLARE.COM
Updated Date: 22-may-2012
Creation Date: 08-feb-2012
Expiration Date: 08-feb-2013

Domain Name: IOS5UDID.COM
Status: ok
Name Server: NS1.FULLTHROTTLEHOST.COM
Name Server: NS2.FULLTHROTTLEHOST.COM
Updated Date: 09-jul-2012
Creation Date: 18-jun-2011

Domain Name: ICRACKR.COM
Status: ok
Name Server: NS20.ALIBABAHOST.COM
Name Server: NS21.ALIBABAHOST.COM
Status: ok
Updated Date: 02-jul-2012
Creation Date: 06-dec-2011
Expiration Date: 06-dec-2014

Domain Name: IOSUDIDS.COM
Status: ok
Name Server: NS77.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
Name Server: NS78.DOMAINCONTROL.COM
Updated Date: 09-jun-2012
Creation Date: 11-jun-2011
Expiration Date: 11-jun-2013

Domain Name:UDIDREGISTRATION.ORG
Status: ok
Name Server: ns1.kellyswesternwear.com
Name Server: ns2.kellyswesternwear.com
Created On:11-Jun-2011
Last Updated On:14-Jun-2012
Expiration Date:11-Jun-2013

Domain Name: ACTIVATIONIOS.COM
Status: ok
Name Server: DNS19.OVH.NET
Name Server: NS19.OVH.NET
Updated Date: 06-jun-2012
Creation Date: 07-jun-2011
Expiration Date: 07-jun-2013

Sites offering activation software have a lot to defend against. PayPal & various other financial payment systems have often demonstrated itself as a willing accomplice to quickly freeze payment accounts of any websites alleged to be involved with infringing content.

Despite everything against them, there are even more examples of the web’s ability to evade the will of the powers that be. David from Fused (@DavidAndGoliath) added that Apple's action were not likely to be effective, as many of the sites in question were in the process of moving to hosting firms based outside the US. "Apple is definitely fighting a losing battle on this one. Unless they go directly after the developer accounts abusing the process, they have little chance of scrubbing these sites off the web".

Apple has declined to comment: though their actions speak louder than words. 

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