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Note: Cross-posted from SE SuperUser to get thoughts from legal experts here.


Follow up question to Revisit the Hackintosh policy.

Use case:

  • I create a userscript (in a [licenced] Windows or a Linux) and release it under GNU GPLv3 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-3.0.html.
  • I'd like to test the script with browsers available in macOS as well.
  • To be able to achieve this with the x86-based systems mentioned above (I do not own or have access to any Mac) I get a macOS ISO image and install macOS in a local VM.

Does this comply with fair use's "public interest in the wider distribution and use of creative works"?

If the answer is (more) "yes" are questions regarding such a use case tolerated here on SU?[not of interest here on Law]


If the answer is (more) "yes" do questions regarding such a use case comply with SE's Acceptable Use Policy (or any other TOS)?

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  • 1
    Can the downvoters give me hint(s) how I can improve the question? Is this Q not appropriate for SE Law at all? Jun 10, 2023 at 19:55
  • This questuon skirts very close to the ban on Specific Legal Advice and is somewhat unclear.
    – Trish
    Jun 11, 2023 at 7:05

2 Answers 2

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Breach of contract is within the wider definition of illegal

When you install Apple OS, the installer prompts you to read and adhere to a clickwrap contract. This contract, the license agreement, only grants you a license to install and use the software if you adhere to a list of enumerated device types or cases. The enumerated cases, broadly speaking, are not allowing installation on non-Apple machines.

Not following the terms of a license and creating a Hackintosh is a breach of contract. Breach of contract is something that Apple can sue the person breaching the contract over - that makes it fall within the wider sphere of illegal or rather legal wrong(doing)). But it is not criminal. It's a civil wrong(doing).

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Let me try to find a legal question here. The SE main TOS page states that

Stack Overflow reserves the right to refuse, suspend or terminate your access to the public Network if it determines, in its sole discretion, that you have in any way violated these Public Network Terms or are otherwise ineligible to access or use the Network or Services.

The question of whether SE will get sued over this policy is therefore "No", they have complete discretion to kick you off.

Still, maybe there is some question as to what the word "illegal" means. The popular meaning of illegal is "prohibited by criminal law", but the broader meaning assumed on Law SE is something like "may reasonably be negatively sanctioned if brought to court", and includes crimes, torts, breaches of contract, administrative fines, judicial injunctions and so on.

Presumably the real intent is to prohibit uses which encourage actions that stand a reasonable chance of being found to be illegal, were the matter to be brought to court (everything "may or may not be legal"). Without calling into question the logic of such a principle in the first place, and unless you refine the principle to narrowly mean "criminally prohibited", then this means "is it illegal to run Mac OS on non-apple hardware". It sort of looks like it is a violation of the EULA for the operating system, which makes it copyright infringement to do so (and illegal in virtually every nation, except Iran and Eritrea).

It is entirely unclear what the prohibition against "illegal use" is supposed to refer to. It is not universally illegal to advocate certain (unnamed) political positions, but it is in some countries. Hate speech is legal in the US, and illegal in other countries. It may be illegal to describe how to violate a software EULA in some country, though it is not, in the US.

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  • Thx for the reply. The second question wasn't "_whether SE will get sued _" but whether SU mods can reliably refer to SE's TOS when banning such questions. The first, general-interest and main question re fair use seems not to be answered. At least I can't extract one from your otherwise interesting explanations. Jun 10, 2023 at 20:07

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