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Apple Files Suit over Leaked OS X Tiger

By Jennifer LeClaire MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Dec 22, 2004 11:35 AM PT

Apple has filed a federal lawsuit accusing three members of the Apple Developer Connection Program of posting a developer release of Mac OS X Tiger onto Web sites where they could be downloaded using the controversial BitTorrent file-sharing network.

Apple Files Suit over Leaked OS X Tiger

Apple said more than 2,500 copies of one Tiger version were downloaded beginning in late October through this month.

"Apple's future operating results and financial condition are substantially dependent on its ability to continue to develop improvements to the Mac OS and related software applications in order to maintain perceived design and functional advantages over competing platforms," Apple said in the suit. "Apple therefore invests heavily in the development of new and innovative versions of the Mac OS and other software applications."

Apple is asking the federal court in San Jose, California, to issue an injunction barring further releases of its software. The company is also seeking unspecified damages.

Trust Issues

This is the second lawsuit the computer maker has filed in the past two weeks over leaked product information. Apple also filed suit against an unnamed individual who it claims leaked details of another product on Mac-centric rumor sites.

The most recent suit is more serious in nature because it could pose a larger threat to Apple's long-term profitability, Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox said.

Wilcox told MacNewsWorld that members of Apple's developer network sign non-disclosure agreements, and the leak was a breach of trust that could hinder Apple's relationship with developers.

"If Apple ever reached the point where it felt it couldn't give members of its developer network access to the code, then that could actually hurt the development of Mac software," Wilcox said. "It would hurt other developers who legitimately want to have access to the code and, of course, that could hurt the larger Apple community."

BitTorrent Advantages

BitTorrent networks are at the center of the lawsuit. BitTorrent is the fastest-growing file-sharing system; more data is transferred across the Web on its networks than any other. It allows for the sharing of large files, such as movies or computer games, and has the capacity to allow multiple users to access the same file simultaneously without slowing down the process.

In addition, BitTorrent does not have a centralized network, but instead points downloaders to sites that keep track of where files are stored and available.

The Motion Picture Association of America joined with law enforcement in Europe and the U.S. in legal action that served to shut down several BitTorrent sites earlier this week. However, Wilcox said BitTorrent networks could serve a valuable purpose to companies like Apple.

"These early releases tend to be traded among enthusiasts who can act as a very important informational channel for testing features and also uncovering bugs of beta software," Wilcox said. "I suspect a number of different companies are intentionally leaking through these kinds of back channels and then watching the response and then incorporating that into their product development. But obviously there's a difference between [that and] a controlled leak."

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