Corellium’s iOS virtualization for Apple no “fair use” – appeal appealed


Apple is contesting a court decision that has declared the virtualization of iOS for security research to be “fair use”: The group appealed the judgment to the responsible US court on Tuesday (Apple vs. Corellium, file number 9: 19-cv- 81160, United States District Court – Southern District of Florida). Apple considers the virtualization of iOS offered by Corellium as a cloud service to be a “clear copyright infringement” and took the security researchers to court two years ago – apparently after a takeover failed.

The iOS virtualization offered for security research is an “illegal copy” of the protected operating system and the associated Apple apps, according to the original lawsuit. Corellium not only reproduces “virtual versions” of iPhones, but also the “underlying computer code” without having a license for it.

The court rejected the allegation last December that the virtualization tool was “transformative” and not just an “repackaged version” of iOS in a virtual machine, the judge wrote in the decision in the first instance.

Corellium called on security researchers earlier this week to check Apple’s controversial local iPhone scanning for abuse material – and promised funds for it. A day later, Apple appealed and continues litigation against the company.

In order to dispel concerns with regard to the local CSAM scanning, Apple repeatedly pointed out that the system could be checked by security researchers because it was available locally on iPhones. The iOS devices are, however, heavily sealed off in order to gain deep insight if a jailbreak is required, a rooted iPhone released only by Apple under strict conditions or a tool like the virtualization offered by Corellium. Apple should not pretend that security researchers can examine the company’s security promises and at the same time try to “make such security research illegal”, Corellium boss Amanda Gorton told the news agency Reuters.

Shortly before, Apple and Corellium had reached an out-of-court settlement; details of the settlement were not given. It apparently only covers the part of the lawsuit in which Apple accused the security company of violating the DRM circumvention prohibition under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) with the service. The procedure had already been sharply criticized by security researchers, Apple ultimately wanted to make general software tools illegal if they could also be used to develop an iPhone jailbreak, warned civil rights activists.

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