EDITORIAL NOTE: February 2, 2012 — My, there’s an Apple Chill in the air this morning! I posted the this update to my original article and, as I did there, I have done here: Removed any and all Apple quotations…
UPDATE: February 2, 2012 — 24 hours have come and gone since Apple gave me 24 hours to remove this entire article from publication.
Apple Supervisor James finally called me back this morning to confirm the Takedown Notice was real — bad grammar and all — and that it came from Apple. He asked me if Apple did anything to me for not taking down the article and I told him, “No.” So far, all my Apple IDs and developer access and iTunes Match and such were still active.
Then James then told me I could risk doing nothing with this article and see what happens next, or I could just remove the quoted responses from AppleCare support in this article and that should be enough.
When I told him removing the quotes would not put me in compliance with the Takedown Notice because Apple demanded the removal of the entire article, James said I could wait and see if the Apple legal department contacted me again or not and then decide what to do.
He said Apple “didn’t want me to feel more threatened than you already are.”
I asked him to send me an email confirming that removing the quoted email would legally satisfy Apple’s Takedown Notice, and he said he’d check on that and get back to me.
In the meantime, and in the spirit of Apple Fellowship — and, more importantly, of not wanting to deal with this all day every day any longer — I have removed the Apple email responses from this article. If you want to read the full text of the Takedown Notice — you can still read it on Tech Crunch — at least until Apple forces them to take it down.
SOPA and PIPA certainly stung — but there’s nothing quite like having Apple directly slap you in the face.
I was having such a good day today. Then Apple threatened me in a nasty email and the next thing I know, my world is exploding on Tech Crunch:
Here’s how it all happened.
For 13 days or so, I’ve been waiting for a transfer of my AppleCare warranty from one Thunderbolt display to a replacement display. I wrote about the ridiculousness of the transfer process — Warning: Check Your AppleCare Support Profile! — in Go Inside Magazine.
At the end of my boredom rope, I sent this reply to Apple this morning:
It’s been five days [since the last “please wait 24-48 hours” email from Apple] and the transfer still hasn’t happened. Can this please be escalated to a Supervisor so the matter can successfully be resolved? I’d also like a real name and honest contact point for this ongoing mess.
My blog readers need an update on this serious silliness:
A couple of hours later, I received a voice mail message from Apple telling me the problem was resolved and thanks for being a customer.
An hour or so after that message, I received this nasty email from Apple that included the URL of my article I had just sent to AppleCare support. Isn’t it curious there’s no compliance footer in this takedown notice from Apple?
Here’s the text of that email:
[REMOVED BY APPLE REQUEST.]
Ten minutes after I received that takedown notice, I was sent another email from Apple apologizing for the delay in transferring my AppleCare warranty and that they appreciated having me as a customer.
The first thing that occurred to me is that this was some sort of spoof email — but there’s no such thing as a coincidence — and I checked out the email headers and the email looks to me like it tracks back to Apple.com. Here are the headers for your perusal:
Received: by 10.229.139.11 with SMTP id c11cs6543qcu;
Tue, 31 Jan 2012 12:45:48 -0800 (PST)
Received: by 10.68.227.165 with SMTP id sb5mr52307301pbc.80.1328042747448;
Tue, 31 Jan 2012 12:45:47 -0800 (PST)
Received: from psmtp.com (exprod7mx198.postini.com. [126.96.36.199])
by mx.google.com with SMTP id e6si27827813pbd.94.2012.01.31.12.45.46
Tue, 31 Jan 2012 12:45:47 -0800 (PST)
Received-SPF: pass (google.com: domain of firstname.lastname@example.org designates 188.8.131.52 as permitted sender) client-ip=184.108.40.206;
Authentication-Results: mx.google.com; spf=pass (google.com: domain of email@example.com designates 220.127.116.11 as permitted sender) firstname.lastname@example.org
Received: from mail-out.apple.com ([18.104.22.168]) (using TLSv1) by exprod7mx198.postini.com ([22.214.171.124]) with SMTP;
Tue, 31 Jan 2012 20:45:46 GMT
Received: from relay14.apple.com ([126.96.36.199])
by mail-out.apple.com (Oracle Communications Messaging Server 7u4-23.01
(188.8.131.52.0) 64bit (built Aug 10 2011))
with ESMTPS id for email@example.com; Tue,
31 Jan 2012 12:45:45 -0800 (PST)
Received: from dhcp017107154053.corp.apple.com
(using TLS with cipher AES128-SHA (AES128-SHA/128 bits))
(Client did not present a certificate)by relay14.apple.com (Apple SCV relay)
with SMTP id 7B.6F.18152.9F2582F4; Tue, 31 Jan 2012 12:45:45 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Apple Terms and Policy.
Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2012 12:45:43 -0800
X-Mailer: Apple Mail (2.1251.1)
X-pstn-levels: (S: 0.43965/99.90000 CV:99.9000 FC:95.5390 LC:95.5390 R:95.9108 P:95.9108 M:94.9308 C:98.6951 )
X-pstn-cm-addresses: from (approved)
X-pstn-settings: 2 (0.5000:0.5000) s cv gt3 gt2 gt1 r p m c
X-pstn-addresses: from forward (org good) [2040/80]
X-pstn-nxpr: disp=neutral, firstname.lastname@example.org
rcptHash=ea4e2441ddcfd0f105b4f3846493c854108e458d, sourceip=184.108.40.206, version=1
Content-type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
[REMOVED BY APPLE REQUEST.]
Since I had no way to reply to — “email@example.com” — I picked up the phone and called Apple to try to get a clarification as to exactly WHAT my punishment would be if I didn’t “comply” with their takedown notice within 24 hours.
Sure, I could redact all the AppleCare responses from the blog article — which would make my original article even funnier — but that doesn’t seem to be enough for Apple. They want the entire article taken down in total! Oh, if they’d only done the transfer in the original 24-hour timeframe none of this woe would’ve happened!
I didn’t think email footers were legally binding — even though I failed to read or recognize the footers in question from Apple before I wrote the article. I didn’t reveal any names. I didn’t share the Apple.com email address I was corresponding with in order to try to resolve my problem.
Shouldn’t Apple want to be transparent in the support process? What’s there to hide? I did redact information in their responses that appeared to be internal and proprietary.
Are Apple going to cancel all my AppleCare subscriptions? Are they going to pull my Apple ID and block me from using iTunes Match and my 25,000 songs? Are they going to cancel my iPhone Beta participation even though this matter has nothing to do with that process?
I’m a big Apple fanboi. I buy all sorts of Apple products. I even write books about Apple and Apple products. Jinkers!
After waiting on the phone for 45 minute with Apple — during which I emailed my favorite Tech blogs to see if they’d heard of such a takedown notice from Apple before (Thanks John Biggs!) — I finally spoke with a Supervisor who said he’d check into the matter. At his request, I forwarded the email to him. I also told him I needed to hear back from him before 24 hours expired because Apple was going to do something to me tomorrow. He promised to call me back by the end of the day.
I’ll update you as the process flows. When I know, you’ll know.
What a load of stuff from Apple, David! They have nerve sending you such threats.
It was such a shocker, Gordon. I couldn’t believe my eyes for a moment.
Then I thought, as I was on hold waiting to talk to Apple for an explanation about what they planned to do to me in 24 hours — “What is the worst thing they can do? Take away all my Apple IDs? Ban me from developer betas? Cancel my AppleCare warranties on products I’d already purchased?” — and then I thought, I can live with any of that in order not to live with their censorship. I love Google. I’ll go Android instead. I’ll go back to MSFT Windows boxes for all my computing needs. I love Apple, but I can certainly live without them and their nefarious, but curiously non-specific, threats.
I told the Apple Supervisor I was speaking with on the phone today that I was emailing my author friends and tech blogs to get some feedback on if this takedown threat had happened before with other personal blogs… and then I asked the Supervisor if he had ever heard of this happening in the past and he told me, “No.”
May I respectfully suggest that, after taking a quick look at the actual content of the e-mail you received, that (at best) some low-level CSR very likely wrote that in a fit of piquef. There is no possible way such a poorly-written post would ever actually been approved by Apple, any of its lawyers (who would properly handle such matters) or management.
In short, some dweeb at a call centre is about to get his ass canned, though I doubt Apple will admit as much in its inevitable follow-up apology letter. You were right to report the email, of course, but methinks you may be making a bit much out of the whole thing.
Thanks for the comment, Charles. We can’t know what happened unless we ask. That’s why I asked some of my Tech friends if they’d heard about this sort of censorship notice from Apple before and that’s why I picked up the phone to directly ask Apple for clarification.
I am waiting for the promised callback from the Apple Supervisor tonight. I’m anxious to see if it happens.
If I don’t get a response, then I’ll likely be on tenterhooks all of tomorrow waiting out my 24-hour threat period to see if Apple removes me from the internet or not.
Do you think Apple should be sending out takedown notices to bloggers and have that action go unchallenged?
We haven’t actually ascertained that this did in fact come from “Apple” or perhaps more accurately anyone with any authority at Apple. I hope the supervisor gets back to you promptly, but perhaps it may take him or her a little while to get to the bottom of what’s going on.
As for your strawman questions at the end, I invite you to point out to me where I suggested that you should not challenge the “takedown notice.” I believe I questioned the legitimacy of the email you received, not your actions in reporting it.
But since you asked, Apple are perfectly within their rights to issue takedown notices if someone has posted something they believe was obtained illegally (this has happened to Apple before as I recall), and the alleged offender is perfectly within their rights to challenge it. I simply don’t think this is what has actually happened in this case.
What Apple has absolutely NO right to do is send out such a poorly-written message to anyone for any reason. In addition to calling Apple to complain about it, you should have also summoned the Grammar Police. 🙂
If you look at the message headers I posted in the article, I believe it is pretty clear the email was sent from Apple.com. I also believe it is commonly understood an email footer is not a contract and doesn’t constitute a legally compelling agreement between to parties even though many businesses try to press that claim.
No callback from the Apple supervisor yet. I’ll keep waiting.
(From my comment on the techcrunch article:)
Regarding the email headers you posted: email headers are *easily* spoofed. Pretty much the only part you can trust is the final “Received:” header prepended by the server you ultimately fetched the message from, assuming you trust that server (in this case, gmail, it looks like) and your connection to it. In particular, note that gmail received this message from psmtp.com — some kind of hosted email service apparently affiliated with google (but distinct from gmail) — and that this host intervenes between gmail (you) and the supposed origin of mail-out.apple.com.
Some third party could have sent you the message from their psmtp.com account (or whatever it is — check out https://secure.psmtp.com/s/login?b=tnb for a sketchy example), and simply spoofed all of the headers beginning at “Received-SPF: pass…”, probably by copying the headers from a genuine apple-originated email they received at some point (and updating the timestamps accordingly). This process can easily be automated by spoofers. Note that psmtp.com (or “postini” as it seems to be called) advertises the ability to integrate with a user’s custom google-apps, so someone could have written an app for automating this spoofing process to send supposed Apple emails from their psmtp account. Shit sucks on the internet.
Thanks for coming over here to post your comment from Tech Crunch.
Here’s why I don’t believe the email is spoofed:
1. The headers look clean compared to other correspondance I’ve had with Apple recently and in the past, and all the points you make about them being faked are actually all proper provenance links in the mail exchange.
2. Do a WHOIS on “boles.com” and you’ll see my mail servers. BolesUniversity.com runs on Google Apps and Boles.com is one domain subset of that account. Postini is the Google Apps spam mail server.
3. Apple wrote to an email address I don’t use any longer for everyday correspondence. I still use that email address with Apple because it is an old address that’s I’ve had forever and it has been tied to Apple as my ID for years. For a spoofer to go out and somehow divine to use that very email address out of the tens I use everyday for business, and know that was the email address I was using to correspond with Apple, is impossible.
4. There’s no such thing as a coincidence. I replied to AppleCare yesterday morning and gave them the URL of my article for the first time. A couple of hours later, the takedown notice arrives from Apple quoting back the URL. The article in question was published on January 26, 2012. Our blog articles get the most hits and attention on the first day or so of publication. Rarely do hits rise on an old article as time passes — so the time for spoofing me would’ve been earlier in the publication cycle to be believable if this were, indeed, an independent anomaly and actually not the result of me sending Apple the URL.
I personally don’t think you were within your rights to post email you received from Apple on your little blog. Your issue is between you and Apple, not Apple and you and everyone else. Should the issue have been resolved by now? Absolutely. Is there any excuse for that not happening? Absolutely not. That still doesn’t give anyone license to do whatever they want with the communication they receive. But that’s just me. It appears most others would disagree with me on this count. But, if you’re not complying legally with what you are allowed to do with correspondence from Apple, then if there are consequences, you surely must be willing to pay them….
It doesn’t appear this email came from Apple anyway though. It may be just a built-in defense mechanism in their internal email system.
Glad your issue is being resolved anyway, it shouldn’t have taken all this….
Thanks for the comment and I appreciate your point of view.
If I want to publish an email (without names or identify email) it is my right. If they send it to my computer, it becomes my property to do with as I please. How I determine this. A lot of places say, any submission, email or another other form becomes their property and the may use it how they see fit without any compensation or without any further permission (It is not exact wording but it is close) . He was having a problem with something trying to get to fixed and they wouldn’t. Just as long as you are not derogatory or rude you should be ok,.
Please see what has been the best quick reference on copyright myths for over 15 years:
[redacted by David W. Boles]
Thanks for the link, Tomas. I was uncomfortable with the long excerpt you posted — the DMCA protects blog authors more than it does commenters who post outside content in the replies stream — but people can, and should go read the link you shared.
I think I know what you a referring to. Email hasn’t really been decided one way or another. 8, 10 and in the summary all say different things. To me some of those seem like a conflicts. Even though there are conflicts, I think it means you can post it but not word for word. You can summarize & quote parts of it. There is a fine line. One thing that the bugs me, that I find on a lot of sites. For example, let say you have an idea. Your email that place. On their website or in a email, there is a disclaimer. All submission become their property and may be published online or in any other format You also grant the use of your name without any compensation
David W. Boles
Personally, I always thought you could publish any email word for word if the names & emails were removed. That really hasn’t really been decided yet by the courts.
I’m inclined to agree with you. No proprietary secrets were revealed in the anonymous excerpts and, in the end, Apple did the right thing and made the AppleCare transfer happen. Of course, all that has to now be inferred since the articles have been censored by Apple. Sometimes being legally correct is worse than being humanly right.
While C.J. clearly does have a stick up his ass which is undoubtedly the reason he had to stand up for Apple (sitting down on that is a but uncomfortable I hear) were you able to verify that the header information is authentic? I am under the impression this can be spoofed however I’m not an expert and am not sure this is the case.
I posted the email headers in the article and, in my experience, they look authentic. I have no reason to spoof them and why in the world would anybody else take time out of their day to spoof me for the promise of so little return?
It is in Apple’s best interest to determine if the email is spoofed, because if it is, they need to be aware of it and track it down and try to stop it because that spoofer is damaging their brand. I asked the Supervisor if he wanted the full email headers and he declined. He said just forwarding the email was “enough for now.” I also gave him the Apple email address I’d been corresponding with about the AppleCare issue because, I believe, because someone at that address is the person who started the ball rolling on the takedown notice.
The fact that Apple never called back last night is curious because it is in their best interest to squash this as a spoof — if it is — and to let me know I was taken for a ride.
Still no callback or email from the Apple Supervisor I spoke to on the phone yesterday, but just moments ago, this email arrived from the Apple email address I’d been corresponding with to resolve the AppleCare problem:
Now that’s the sort of kindness I’ve come to expect from Apple because they have always been great to me and supportive — and that’s why the coverage transfer delays was so confounding.
I confirmed the AppleCare coverage is now in effect on the new Thunderbolt display.
Now we need to track down the origin of that takedown notice from Apple — and no, interestingly enough, the email I quoted in this comment from AppleCare DID NOT HAVE a legalistic email footer attached.
Better watch out for Apple security staff (with fake police credentials) coming to harass you…
I am on the lookout, Sajal! SMILE! I have three more hours or so until my 24-hour deadline to remove the article is over!
The real problem is not the email footer – it is unilateral and therefor not binding. Still, there are two issues here: (Expectation of) Privacy and Copyright. While the privacy of a support email can certainly be doubted, it is without any doubt content/works produced by somebody else for which you have no publishing rights. As it is digital content created by others, it might even be covered by the DMCA (this interpretation would fit with “the government is under watch of”).
And that is where the email footer does become relevant after all: You have no license to publish the content of the email, and the footer even clarifies that such a license will not be granted.
Journalists get proper authorizations before publishing mails, emails, voicemail recordings, etc. They do that for a reason.
I do think that Apple is really overdoing it here, since especially customer service mails should have a quality that is an endorsement of (and an advertisement for) the issuing company, Apple’s normally are. I can’t estimate in how far Apple being more relaxed here would cause a precedent that could hit them elsewhere though…
I’m not always publishing the content of all the emails. I’m quoting and redacting pertinent information, unless the full message is important to the telling of the story — and that is all under the umbrella of Fair Use — and since bloggers are journalists, we enjoy the same free speech protections of the mainstream mega media publications and, as I mentioned in my update in the comments, the email from Apple this morning included no footer legalese, so that’s already a positive change for the good.
It’s also worth nothing that Gmail tends to condense conversations to show only new replies, so if one isn’t always choosing to “expand” messages, one will never see the email footers sent by others anyway.
“I’m quoting and redacting pertinent information, unless the full message is important to the telling of the story — and that is all under the umbrella of Fair Use”
David, you clearly cover what is needed to likely sustain the four-factor test for Fair Use. But you need to consider that this is (at least according to most interpretations) only applicable to published works, e.g. if Apple would publish this mail (like e.g. as a press release), then you can create a transformative piece of content under Fair Use provisions from that published work. In case of an email, Apple has not published anything, as you as a customer are not the public. Nobody else could have bought, rented or licensed it (and depending on the content of the communication, you might not want Apple to publish your “content” either). E.g. Apple could not create a “Stupid requests from our customers” page on their site and publish support requests, maybe even naming individuals sending them in.
There are various differing opinions and verdicts about “Fair Use” of unpublished works, but a “Fair Use” claim would fail in most courts, especially when it comes to clearly addressed mails or emails (mass mailings or press releases are clearly different).
We could go around about this all day, and I thank you for your insight, but I’m off to teach a class.
Matters like this make me happy I host my blogs on WordPress.com — if there are any DMCA issues or other inquiries or threats — WP.com will process them and, if action is warranted, will work directly with the blog owner for a resolution; and the first thing they vett is if the complainant has standing or not:
If you are following the developments of this article via new comments notification, the article has been updated with new information: The Apple Takedown Notice was real! I’ve updated the article to reflect what happened this morning.
P.S. — I’ll never review another Apple product again in any of my 14 blogs!
Unless, of course, my Apple stuff blows up or falls apart! Then I’ll dig them a new grave!
Haha, In Finland such stupid disclaimer is not legally binding and I according to Finnish law I would have the right to publish such letter (if personal details would be protected). However, it seems united states legislation is very much different. Here’s the link to some sort of law site, it would seem that actually Apple hold’s copyright to this text (because according to united states law corporations are treated as legal persons)
I suppose according to US law you can quote from it or summarize it under the fair use doctrine. Removing just the letter should be sufficient as the other parts of the text is yours. Man, you’ve got pretty messed up legislation there in states. Hope it will never get like that here in europe.
Thank you for your point-of-view from Finland! I appreciate the differences in how our nations are governed — and I certainly like your system better! SMILE!
So if corporations are people in the USA as the Supreme Court ruled — then Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are no longer the richest men in America, right? Those crowns now fall to Apple and Exxon!
That’s not quite correct. Journalists in America do not need to get permission to republish quotes. It’s preferable, granted, but not necessary. DMCA can be trumped by the First Amendment, in regards to freedom of the press. It falls under fair use, a privilege that news outlets, including online media, have over other citizens or companies.
The question is urbansemiotic.com operating as a member of the press. We certainly believe at PhoneNews.com that, in this case, it is.
Really, all of this underscores Apple’s problem with the media, and the threat that they have of alienating the public. It does not take too many of these kinds of PR debacles to undermine the credibility of the company, with those that are the decision-makers and trend-setters for a much larger community.
Staying silent, and persistently not responding to Media Relations requests for comment only makes these situations worse… and only worse for Apple. It is by far one of the largest blemishes on Steve Jobs’ tenure at Apple, and it is one blemish that is lingering.
I thank you for your comments and your support.
Your comments about Apple and the media are dead on — they need us to live, but they don’t care about our survival.
Here’s my postmortem on the whole Apple Takedown Affair — and how Tech Crunch brought over 10,000 hits to the Boles Blogs Network:
Completely stumped by the Apple – saga – something that we do not expect from a name like that. I am happy that your problem got resolved.
I will wait to see where Tim Cook takes this team… 🙂
Hi Katha —
Yes, it was a sad turn of events. There has to be some sort of semblance of context from big companies when it comes to crushing competition and consumers. Give the buyer a break already. None of this would’ve happened if the AppleCare database hadn’t died. Instead of just fixing the problem and apologizing, Apple instead decided to come down and punish me for publicly telling people their imperfections. That sort of corporate heavy-handedness makes lifelong enemies instead of loyal consumers.
What is this firstname.lastname@example.org? Did the guy who emailed you this junk state his full name?
No name. No way to reply to the email. That’s why I had to pick up the phone and call for clarification.
Not introducing yourself is considered extremely rude, even amongst enemies. I think where they went wrong is threatening to sic the government on you. Everyone knows voodoo dolls is the way to go.
I agree! If you’re going to make a threat, identify yourself so the fight can begin! SMILE!
Reblogged this on wakoku and commented: