Ah, the Christmas season: that magical time of year marked by the near-ubiquitous presence of garishly festooned imitation conifers, giant inflatable lawn Santas, and extended holiday shopping hours at stores unloading impersonal pre-wrapped ties and Isotoner gloves at holly-jolly discounts. But in this day and age, it's easy to forget that the true spirit of the holiday season isn't about manufactured ersatz goodwill and the relentless pursuit of material possessions. It isn't even about the eggnog. As Linus so effectively reminds us in A Charlie Brown Christmas, this holiday is really about suing the bejeezus out of anyone who would dare violate the sanctity of the almighty Non-Disclosure Agreement. (Well, that's what we got out of it, anyway; what version were you watching?)
Luckily for drama fiends like us, Apple is filled to bursting with so much holiday spirit, it's spraying lawsuits uncontrollably in every direction. It was mere days ago that we marveled at the company's "John Doe" lawsuit against the as-yet-unnamed person or persons who plastered the 'net with details about Apple's unannounced "Asteroid" FireWire audio breakout box, and yet Apple continues to give generously to those craving still more holiday litigation: faithful viewer MrP informs us that, as reported by CNET, now Apple has filed suit against three developers who allegedly distributed prerelease developer builds of Apple's next major operating system version, Tiger, via the BitTorrent peer-to-peer filesharing protocol.
Wow, you can almost smell the holiday spirit-- or is it the scent of Apple roasting those developers' chestnuts over the open fire of its Flaming Pit of Legal Retribution? Either way, Apple claims that the defendants all had access to Tiger developer betas via their membership in the Apple Developer Connection, for which they'd all signed "strict confidentiality agreements." While we don't have a copy of said agreements in front of us, we're going to hazard a guess that they're pretty clear on the topic of not posting copies of developer OS seeds for free downloading by the general public. Nevertheless, Apple alleges that the three defendants did exactly that, starting last October and continuing "through this month," which led to "more than 2,500 copies" having been downloaded via BitTorrent-- and that was for just one of the posted versions.
Apple is seeking a "stop doing that" injunction, as well as the ever-popular "unspecified monetary damages." Let's see, here... 2,500 copies of Tiger downloaded (more, actually; this is a bare minimum estimate, here) times probably $129 a pop when the software ships next year equals $322,500. But, of course, these weren't finished and complete versions of Tiger, so presumably they're worth a lot less-- or possibly, from the court's perspective, a lot more. The cheapest ADC membership option that includes access to prerelease operating systems costs $500 a year. Multiply that by the 2,500 downloaded copies of Tiger, and these defendants may be looking at damages of $1.25 million. And that's based solely on estimated immediate revenue loss, and doesn't even include any punitive damages, or compensation for long-term competitive damage based on Microsoft developers even now poring through downloaded Tiger builds for stuff to copy into Longhorn.
In other words, these developers might be on the hook for some serious moolah-- but how else would you know it's Christmas? So ho ho ho, everybody, and keep your eyes peeled for Apple's next holiday lawsuit, which ought to be coming around, oh, roughly twenty minutes from now. After all, 'tis the season!