Judge refuses Apple’s bid to delay digital rights protection rules

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A pair of iPhone XS smartphones are displayed at the Apple Store in the glitzy San Francisco Centre A US judge has refused Apple’s request to postpone new…

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A pair of iPhone XS smartphones are displayed at the Apple Store in the glitzy San Francisco Centre

A US judge has refused Apple’s request to postpone new digital rights management (DRM) rules coming into force on the App Store.

The Cupertino, California company wants to delay the changes due to come into effect on 26 September until 19 November.

Apple’s challenge centers on a request by Google to make changes to its own retail digital rights management software.

The delay would prevent Apple from making it more difficult for Android users to install some software.

The two tech companies already face multiple copyright and patent lawsuits, notably over whether Apple and Google are copying each other’s products.

The judge said Apple wanted the delay until the law could be seen in context and no other changes were necessary.

“The court finds that Apple has not met its burden of demonstrating that the harm it is seeking to overcome by this relief can be remedied through more sensible notification procedures”, the order read.

Apple would like to enable users to update an operating system to the latest software without taking steps to remove an older, often older version.

Some developers were also pushing for Google to make changes, a move the Cupertino firm wants avoided.

One of the things the “notice and takedown” notification process would alert users to is that their applications are being used to infringe someone else’s copyright. This would then allow developers to ask Apple for the removal of what they believe was an illegal download.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The iPhone XS has been delayed two weeks due to supply chain issues

The so-called Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 requires internet service providers such as Apple and Google to be alerted whenever content is illegally uploaded or downloaded to their networks.

However, when applying for DMCA notices, Google is required to send users a link with instructions on how to contact Google or the content creator – in contrast to Apple, which has said it will send the DMCA notices to the content owner directly.

The DMCA’s target is IP infringement on the “body of the internet”, but has been criticised by those who say it is also a powerful tool to ensure a stable internet.

Under the process, individuals or companies using the internet to breach copyright are notified of their infringement – but are given notice of how to ensure that their behaviour does not cross the line and violate the copyright owner’s rights.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Although the new rules won’t hurt customers, Apple claims it could cost it £226m a year.

The US Justice Department said in a brief to the court that it would like to see Google revise the notification notice process, adding that “DMA notices must neither punish lawful users nor enable any targeted infringement”.

Bearing this in mind, it is an important battle, argues Dan Reed, one of the lawyers for Get America Clicked (GACT), a consumer group that has filed a lawsuit against Apple.

“Our argument is that the App Store should change the notification system so that it enables developers and users to be both aware of and protected from piracy,” he told Business Insider.

“The agency is making a decision that could directly affect what consumers are able to do on an iPhone, so we think that it’s important that it doesn’t affect consumers and that the process not be set up to be designed to benefit Apple.”

Apple will receive notice on Friday as to whether the changes are acceptable, the Department of Justice said.

Apple says the changes will save the company $207m (£226m) a year, but it has defended the notification system, saying “we do not believe GACT is entitled to any relief.”

Watch an interview with one of the developers who hoped the Apple changes would not have affected his product’s app store page

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