There were a lot of new announcements in the Apple WWDC keynote. Some of them may have surprising legal implications. I’ve been tweeting about them today, and thought I’d pull together some of the issues for handy reference:
AirDrop will create fully encrypted local peer-to-peer networks over WiFi:
Just click the AirDrop icon in the Finder sidebar, and your Mac automatically discovers other AirDrop users within about 30 feet of you. To share a file, simply drag it to someone’s name. Once accepted, the fully encrypted file transfers directly to that person’s Downloads folder.
This is going to be yet another darknet vector. Imagine walking into a cafe, browsing someone else’s iTunes library, asking them for one of their albums, and getting it via AirDrop—all without knowing whose computer yours is interacting with. Sony’s rule on dual use technologies almost certainly absolves Apple of liability from any resulting infringement. Instead, this is yet another example of how technological changes are increasing the velocity with which media circulate, regardless of what copyright law may have to say about it.
Desktop Safari has had Reader for a while; now iOS Safari will get it too. Tap a button to remove ads and depaginates articles spread across multiple web pages. Given higher mobile latencies and small screens, this feature is going to get very heavy use. I predict that some ad-rich websites are going to be very annoyed as their pageviews drop. Will they argue that users are violating terms of service, and will any of them sue Apple for tortious interference with contract? Stay tuned …
iTunes Match is great, I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish, but think for a moment about the privacy implications of asking Apple to scan your entire music library and report back on it to the Apple mothership. Right now, Genius scans your collection and reports back, but all that information is “stored anonymously.” Anonymity doesn’t work if the point is to push out actual music files to all of your devices. Similarly, this goes beyond other cloud services in that you’re not uploading specific chosen files; iTunes Match is designed to scan your entire music collection, no matter how gigantic.
So there you have it: a complete final exam for a digital copyright course. Thank you, Steve, for keeping my professional life interesting.