Apple says virtualization tools violate DMCA... but Corellium says the company is attacking jailbreaking

Black iPhone

Apple has long played a game of cat and mouse with the developers of jailbreak tools, constantly amending the code of its mobile operating systems to prevent people from unlocking their iPhones and iPads.

In an ongoing spat with Corellium -- a company which virtualizes iOS for use by security researchers -- Apple has amended the lawsuit it brought against the company this summer saying the tools it produces infringe on copyright. Corellium has responded with an open letter saying that Apple's line of attack "should give all security researchers, app developers, and jailbreakers reason to be concerned".

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Apple's take on things is very clear. In its lawsuit, the company says: "The product Corellium offers is a 'virtual' version of Apple mobile hardware products, accessible to anyone with a web browser. Specifically, Corellium serves up what it touts as a perfect digital facsimile of a broad range of Apple's market-leading devices -- recreating with fastidious attention to detail not just the way the operating system and applications appear visually to bona fide purchasers, but also the underlying computer code. Corellium does so with no license or permission from Apple".

The company goes on to express its concerns surrounding copyright:

This is a straightforward case of infringement of highly valuable copyrighted works, along with the trafficking of and profiting from technology that enables such infringement. Corellium's business is based entirely on commercializing the illegal replication of the copyrighted operating system and applications that run on Apple's iPhone, iPad, and other Apple devices.

Unsurprisingly, Coellium disagrees, alleging that Apple is simply using the lawsuit to demonize and crackdown on jailbreaking tools. The company published an open letter in response to Apple's amended lawsuit in which it says:

The filing asserts that because Corellium "allows users to jailbreak" and "gave one or more Persons access… to develop software that can be used to jailbreak", Corellium is "engaging in trafficking" in violation of the DMCA. In other words, Apple is asserting that anyone who provides a tool that allows other people to jailbreak, and anyone who assists in creating such a tool, is violating the DMCA. Apple underscores this position by calling the uncover jailbreak tool "unlawful" and stating that it is "designed to circumvent [the] same technological measures" as Corellium.

Apple is using this case as a trial balloon in a new angle to crack down on jailbreaking.

The letter goes on to point out that jailbreaking is important for security, and even that Apple itself benefits from the jailbreak community. Corellium says that "researchers and developers rely on jailbreaking to protect end users" because it is simply not possible to fully test the security of apps in a non-jailbroken environment.

While Apple has shown that it is willing to throw everything it has at the case, Corellium is not going to be intimated into backing down. "We are prepared to strongly defend against this attack, and we look forward to sharing our formal response to this claim when we file it in court", it says.

Image credit: Primakov / Shutterstock

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