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Apple settles copyright lawsuit against virtualization firm Corellium

lady justice 

By Megan Marshall

On August 10th, just days before trial, Apple and Corellium have settled the copyright infringement lawsuit which was filed in 2019. In that initial filing, Apple claimed that Corellium - a cybersecurity company with iOS-focused software, selling virtualized versions of iPhones and other such products - copied "the code, the graphical user interface, [and] the icons."

Founded in 2017, Corellium works with independent security researchers and developers to create virtual devices in the cloud and allows for the use of web browsers to run fully functioning Apple and Google firmware. Upon being published in Forbes in 2018, it was disclosed that Corellium planned to enable customers to investigate usability flaws and vulnerabilities, which caught the attention of the security community. This was around the time when Apple attempted to acquire the firm, with the stalled negotiation prompting legal action.

Apple asserted that the company's products violated their intellectual property rights, particularly on the grounds of breaching the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). They stated that "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." Although they expanded the case with additional allegations in 2020, Apple dropped the section involving copyright breaches in December.

U.S. District Court Judge Rodney Smith had dismissed the notion of these copyright breaches due to Corellium's product having a strong case of fair use. Despite this, he authorized Apple to proceed with their allegations of the company's DMCA infractions. The lawsuit emphasized DMCA Section 1201, which provides the legal protection of their technology, services, and devices against unauthorized access.

The international digital rights group known as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) produced a letter that was signed by 22 companies in support of Corellium. They called for the termination of copyright laws that obstruct security research, claiming them to be a "dangerous" expansion of the law. Corellium had similarly countered that Apple was preventing independent security vendors from rivaling their own products.

According to court records, the terms of the settlement are confidential, but The Washington Post shows confirmation that Corellium will continue to provide virtual iOS systems. Apple is currently enduring criticism from the security community for its child safety initiative, set to be introduced in iOS 15, which has plans to report sensitive images stored in iCloud.

Published Tuesday, August 17, 2021 7:33 AM by David Marshall
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