A year ago in CONFUSION: “The ultimate license”

LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION® is on vacation this week, which, for those of us old enough to remember the concept, obviously means one thing:  “Summer reruns”!

This item from August 2008 struck me as at least superficially reminiscent of the present Kindle Kontroversy, wherein it turns out Amazon was remotely deleting books already downloaded onto customer’s Kindle readers based on subsequent rights claims by publishers:

We’ve written before about the preposterous concept of asserting that stuff you buy and put into the trunk of your car and stick in a closet at home is really just a “license” to use that stuff. Well, here‘s something even “better” — and while it may make users fume, it may be completely legal, and it doesn’t require judges, statutory damages or even any kinds of lawyers to work:

Apple apparently can disable App Store software remotely on your iPhone 3G. The iPhone calls home and poof the application is nuked.

Needless to say that this has caused a bit of a blog ruckus (Techmeme). MacRumors notes that Apple has come under fire for removing App Store software without notification and the ability to simply deauthorize apps already installed on an iPhone is worrisome. iPhone Atlas points out that Jonathan Zdziarski found Apple’s blacklist in a forensic analysis of the iPhone 3G.

Yeahbut. We can understand why zap-ees would find this annoying, though we kind of like the self-help aspect of it. From a DRM prospective, though, it’s absolutely progressive. Or, alternatively, intolerably regressive. One of those things.

The obvious questions, of course, will come up when someone, or more likely a class of someones, sues Apple for the tort of wrongful nuking. Will that sound in breach of warranty? Breach of contract? Some new and exciting cause of action? Either way, of course, the lawyers win. That’s what IP is all about, right? (Hat tip to Instapundit.)

By Ron Coleman

I write this blog.

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