Apple Rocked To Its Core As It Loses Copyright Lawsuit Against Corellium's iOS Emulator

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It's not often that the "little guy" wins out in a court battle against a tech behemoth like Apple, but the little guy definitely won the first round in a copyright battle this week. Corellium LLC was primarily accused by Apple of replicating or stealing iOS, but a federal judge tossed the case due to fair use laws.

Security research and vulnerability tracking can be a tricky task, especially when working with iOS products. Generally, one would have to have an Apple product in hand to test it, but Corellium created “virtual” iOS devices by emulating iOS, which runs on iPhone and iPad devices. Apple seemingly disliked the effort, claiming that the emulation was just for running unauthorized copies of iOS against its wishes.
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Corellium's Security Research Dashboard

Ultimately, the Fort Lauderdale-based judge, Judge Rodney Smith, ruled in favor of Corellium, stating that the emulation is entirely fair use. To constitute fair use, something needs to be “transformative,” or have qualities that make it different, better, or otherwise not the same as the original work. According to Reuters, Corellium’s emulation lets “users see and halt running processes, take live snapshots, and conduct other operations.” This effectively “adds something new to iOS,” therefore making it a fair use case.

The judge also ruled against Apple on its other claim that Corellium acted in bad faith for “selling its product indiscriminately, including potentially to hackers, and by not requiring users to report bugs to Apple.” Apple did not seemingly have any rules against that in its bug-bounty program, so it was a moot point.

Overall, this seems to be a win for the little guy and an intriguing application of fair use laws. It seems that Apple could counter-sue or go after Corellium again in the future, but the outcome may not change.