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Apple Computer's legal policy of shoot first, and ask questions later, has got the company into trouble again.

Apple's lawyers have gone after the popular humor community site Something Awful for posting a link to one of Apple's own internal service manuals. The link resolves to a third party website, and was posted in a useful and informed discussion about Apple's troubled MacBook Pro.

SA's founder Richard Kyanka received an email from Apple claiming:

"The Service Source manual for the MacBook Pro is Apple's intellectual property and is protected by US copyright law. Linking to the manual on your website is an infringement of Apple's copyrights. We therefore must insist that you immediately take all necessary steps to remove the Service Source manual and any other Apple copyrighted material from your site and to prevent further unauthorized use or distribution of Apple intellectual property. "

Six years ago, a US judge in a case brought by Ticketmaster ruled that deep linking does not violate the copyright act.

"I replied to Apple and told them basically to screw off because I'm not doing anything illegal," wrote Kyanka.

"NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING is even hosted on SA. All we have is a link going to somebody else's webspace. I guess Apple has no clue how the internet even works; they should be threatening to sue the ISP hosting the horribly illegal service manual, not some guy who runs a forum where his forum members are TRYING TO HELP people fix issues with their faulty Apple computers."

The case is likely to bring more attention to MacBook Pro's recent woes. We should also note that Lenovo, which now owns the IBM ThinkPad business, continues to make identical technical manuals freely available on the internet.

Since the case was settled in the US, the issue has raised its head in several unrelated disputes. Three years ago budget airline Ryanair blocked access to Openjet.com, a flight shopping comparison site, and only in the same year was the issue settled in Germany.

A similar link was posted on Apple's own Support Forums, and has only just been removed at time of writing. Saving Apple the trouble of suing itself. ®

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