As we all know Mac OS X Mavericks is now free of charge officially! Does this mean that it is now legal to use Mavericks on non-Apple hardware?

  • This question appears to be off-topic because it is about using OS X on non-Apple hardware.
    – nohillside
    Oct 28 '13 at 19:50
  • @patrix: the first question is fully legitimate. Editing to fit the scope.
    – Coyote
    Oct 28 '13 at 21:53
  1. It is not in accordance with Apple's license to run OS X on a non-Apple hardware as per Apple's license agreement for OS X Mavericks. Since this question is not about a preinstalled version of OS X (which is only on new Macs), the Mac App Store License section is applicable, along with the Other Use Restrictions section that is common for both kinds of installations. The license agreement states (emphasis mine):

    2. Permitted License Uses and Restrictions.
    B. Mac App Store License. If you obtained a license for the Apple Software from the Mac App Store, then subject to the terms and conditions of this License and as permitted by the Mac App Store Usage Rules set forth in the App Store Terms and Conditions (http://www.apple.com/legal/itunes/ww/) (“Usage Rules”), you are granted a limited, non-transferable, non-exclusive license:
    (i) to download, install, use and run for personal, non-commercial use, one (1) copy of the Apple Software directly on each Apple-branded computer running OS X Mountain Lion, OS X Lion or OS X Snow Leopard (“Mac Computer”) that you own or control;

    H. Other Use Restrictions. The grants set forth in this License do not permit you to, and you agree not to, install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-branded computer, or to enable others to do so.

    See the SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT FOR OS X MAVERICKS PDF for more details. You can also get to this agreement by going to the Software License Agreements page, then navigating to Operating System Software Tools and Server, and choosing OS X (Mavericks).

  2. As an additional point, even though OS X Mavericks is free for Apple Mac users, it's only because Apple has changed how it accrues revenue from Mac hardware sales by adopting the subscription model (which has been in use for iOS devices for longer), wherein Apple defers accruing a portion of the revenue from Mac sales for providing software updates in the future (including free apps and such). Apple has defined this deferral as two years for iOS devices and four years for Macs. This is the only way for Apple to adhere to accounting laws in the U.S. Searching for "apple subscription accounting" on the web would yield many results on this topic.

Whether using Apple's software in violation of Apple's license is illegal is a question with potentially different answers in different legal jurisdictions.

  • 1
    That applies to America only.
    – Kangarooo
    Oct 10 '14 at 3:12

Who said it was free of charge?

Upgrades to Mavericks are free to people who have paid for a qualifying version of OS X, typically by buying a Mac and perhaps any subsequent OS X upgrades.


The license to run OS X hasn't changed significantly with Mavericks so if you were to run it on non-Apple hardware, you would be without a license according to most people that I've discussed this with.

Legal gets more complicated as it depends heavily upon details about where you live, how you obtained the software, the laws in effect at the time someone decides to test legality and most importantly, the previous case law and perhaps the opinions/feelings/reasoning of the judge or judges that rule on one specific narrow case.

Legal also could depend heavily upon what you did with the product. For instance, copying a painting for your personal pleasure and private display might not be as illegal as copying a painting to sell it for money or even if you gave it away, if you deprived the person who made the painting of their use and ability to control / sell their work, your use of their property could be legally problematic for you.

Here are some things we know:

  1. Apple does not sell mavericks as a product. It accompanies current hardware purchases with a very limiting license clearly intending to prevent what you ask unless you live somewhere where that license is illegal.
  2. Upgrade pricing to people that own a previous version of OS X doesn't involve money changing hands, but is also tied to the Mac App Store licensing process and terms. It also presumes you have a legitimate license to an older version of OS X.

Yes, It is legal. Apple's EULA says not, but their license agreement is in violation of the Sherman Anti-trust act, voiding their end-user agreement (in reference to the DMCA). Nothing is at loss for Apple. Go ahead and install the software.

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