Psystar Owners Speak Out, Deny License Violation

The Miami New Times News (try saying that out loud ten times in a row really fast) has a long story on the Pedraza brothers, the two men behind Psystar, which is located in Miami. The story details the brothers’ youth, and, of course, talks a lot about Psystar and Apple. There is a lot of interesting stuff in there not covered before.

Apparently, the two brothers, Robert and Rudy Pedraza, 24 and 25 years old respectively, had quite the troublesome and poor youth, and especially that whole “poor” thing played somewhat of a role in what they’re doing now. “Like a lot of people, I’d always loved Apple’s interface,” Robert says, “But there’s no way we could afford that stuff growing up, so we always felt sort of excluded from the company.”

And now we are at today, where they are offering non-Apple labelled machines with Mac OS X preinstalled, while facing this massive legal tussle with Apple, one of the largest technology companies in the world.

The article’s author also addresses the issue raised recently about Psystar possibly using code from the open source community to power its Rebel EFI package. According to several influential people within the OSX86 community, Psystar is stealing their open source code, repackaging it, and selling it for 50 USD a pop. This shouldn’t have to be a problem, if it weren’t for the fact that the APSL v2.0 has a clause similar to that of the GPL in that code must be made available to those who received the binary (and since a test version is freely downloadable, you could be entitled to the source too). The ASPL must also be included in the package, and it isn’t.

Now, this is assuming Psystar is indeed using said code. Rudy claims it’s nonsense. “The first thing you have to do is unlearn everything you’ve read online about how to make this work,” Rudy says, “because it’s all wrong.” I’m not entirely sure what is meant by that quote, however.

The brothers also explain that they didn’t set out to challenge Apple, but that they kind of wish they had because then they would’ve approached the matter better. “It’s a common misconception that we set out to challenge Apple,” Rudy says, “I kind of wish we had, because we probably could have approached this from a much more logical starting point. But that’s not how it happened.”

The brothers also address the frantic first few weeks after putting their machines online for everyone to see. The entire ‘net exploded, with many people claiming the company was a fraud. Gizmodo was quick to label the brothers as scammers, because Psystar changed address three times in the first week, and had to switch credit card processors to boot.

They claim they simply weren’t equipped to handle the hundreds of orders pouring in. “We were just not prepared for this kind of reaction,” Rudy says, “And the violence of the backlash was just shocking to us.” They’re referring to Gizmodo posting pictures of Rudy’s house, something he found particularly scary, especially considering some of the comments on the web.

The article details the stakes of the legal case between Psystar and Apple, something we have already debated at great lengths here at OSNews. Robert Pedraza contends that the company’s actions are fully legal (obviously) and likens software to books – much like Borland used to do back in the ’80s.

“It’s like buying a book,” Robert says, “Once I own it, I can tear pages out, underline sentences, even rewrite a whole section. And if I can find a buyer, I can resell that one copy however I please.”

I especially like the one-sentence summary of the case in the article: “So the California case, in essence, comes down to whether Apple’s licensing agreement trumps the Pedrazas’ rights as consumers.” That about sums this entire thing up in my book.

The article also has quite a few details about the financial aspect of it all. Several people claim that Microsoft or Dell are behind Psystar, funding them with money to fight Apple. In fact, PJ from Groklaw takes it all a step further by claiming Psystar is another attempt by Microsoft to bring down the GPL, and that it’s related to the SCO case.

However, when looking at the financial statements of Psystar, it becomes clear that Rudy Pedraza is facing quite some financial hardships. The bankruptcy papers from earlier this year showed a 120000 USD personal loan from Rudy, and he states this is only a fraction of the debts incurred by the legal case. The company also once owed 88464 USD to its previous legal firm, 12793 USD to DHL for shipping costs, and 25000 to its credit card processor.

“There’s no question I’m investing a lot of money,” Rudy says, but he denies all claims that bigger companies are funding Psystar to continue its legal struggle with Apple. “I’m the secret funder. It’s just me,” he adds.

It’s an interesting, unbiased article with quite a lot of information on Psystar and the Pedrazas that we did not yet know. It’s refreshing to finally see the two men being given the opportunity to speak.

As sad as they background stories might sound, I’m anything but convinced about the whole open source code thing, which is something I find very important. I’ve used both Rebel EFI as well as the various open source offerings, and the similarities are clear. Then again, there’s also the common sense argument: they are in such a visible position, with the entire ‘net falling over them whenever they make a peep, that it would be a fail truly epic in proportions if they indeed did steal open source code.

If I were them, I’d open the code to Rebel EFI, to take all the doubts away. The money they are making is about the safe update and driver installation service anyway, so why so cautious about the actual software package?

And I didn’t want you to miss this gem. The author contacted Apple for a response too, but the Cupertino giant declined to comment. All an Apple spokeswoman said, while laughing, was this: “Who asked you to do this story? These Psystar guys pitched you on it?”


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