Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has criticised Apple for going after a student who shared a developer release of the next version of Mac OS X, and promised to donate £1,000 to the student's defence.

Wozniak believes that the student is only guilty of an innocent mistake. He writes: "This is an unintentional oversight and the student appears to be one of the most honest people on this planet. I have to question who is most right in this case."

He adds: "I wish that Apple could find some way to drop the matter. In my opinion, more than appropriate punishment has already been dealt out. In this age of professional spammers and telemarketers making fortunes, we're misusing our energies to pursue these types of small time wrongdoers. I will personally donate $1,000 to the Canadian student's defence."

Shedding light

The student, Vivek 'Sunny' Sambhara, was interviewed by a weblogger for DrunkenBlog. Wozniak, and others, have responded to the interview. Their comments are outlined at DrunkenBlog.

Other notable respondents include Rogue Amoeba CEO Paul Kafasis who said: "Certainly, I can't condone what Sunny did, but does it make sense for Apple to use his actions to ruin the lives of several of their most fervent followers? Apple should be careful to avoid turning its own fans into enemies."

Sunny is accused of leaking a pre-release build of Mac OS 10.4 Tiger on the Internet. The blog is appealing for readers to tell Apple what they think about the case via Apple's feedback form on its Web site.