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There have been threads like https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/107324/is-installing-mavericks-on-hackintosh-legal with some user's commentary amounting to "I purchased 4 iPhones! I'm entitled!"

So far as I can tell, none of the options discussed consider buying a Mac to pay Apple for the hardware one would use an OS on. It was always building a hackintosh in lieu of buying a Mac.

Is deliberately purchasing a Mac and not using it before installing a hackintosh something different and possibly covered by fair use or other doctrine? Or is it still a matter of "You might easily get away with it, but you have Apple's legally backed strong disapproval and the bit about not running on any hardware but Apple?" still the basic picture?

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You cannot run MacOS legally on any computer that is not Apple-branded. It is a DMCA violation. There are technical measures in place that check that the OS is running on an Apple branded computer. These measures are easily circumvented, but they need to be circumvented, which makes it a DMCA violation. A company selling computers with MacOS installed (Psystar) was ordered to pay $2,500 per computer for the DMCA violation (they never paid Apple, they didn't even have money to pay their lawyers).

In practice, Apple will ignore you as long as you don't make claims that what you do is legal. Buying a Mac with legally owned version of MacOS and not using is makes absolutely no difference.

And it would never be fair use. It is either copyright infringement or it is not, bue it is never fair use. "Fair use" is not about "being fair". It is about a very specific set of excuses that you can have why your copyright infringement shouldn't be punished. You are not using MacOS for parody, or just tiny extracts.

For example, if you copied ten lines of source code from MacOS, Linux and Windows to demonstrate in a computer science course how different operating systems handle the same task in different ways, that would quite likely be "fair use".

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