Apple’s mind-bogglingly greedy and evil license agreement

Taken from January 19, 2012 The Ed Bogg Report titled “Apple’s mind-bogglingly greedy and evil license agreement:”

Summary: Over the years, I have read hundreds of license agreements, looking for little gotchas and clear descriptions of rights. But I have never, ever seen a legal document like the one Apple has attached to its new iBooks Author program.

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One Response to “Apple’s mind-bogglingly greedy and evil license agreement”

  1. Grover says:

    UPDATE: As of Feb 3rd, Apple has updated its EULA to clarify its terms, and it validates what I’ve written below.

    The author of this piece is Ed Bott, who is somewhat infamous in the tech journalism crowd for being wildly hyperbolic when it comes to Apple at best, and willfully slanderous at worst. If he’s never read licensing terms like these before, then he must have never read the terms for—as just one example—any console video game development kit ever made. Bott’s goal here is, without question, to smear Apple and the article takes MANY liberties with the facts.

    The facts are these:

    • Apple does not claim any rights over the content of the work, just the .ibooks file itself.
    • Publishing a book on the iBookstore using iBooks Author in no way prevents you from selling the same book through other bookstores.
    • There are no restrictions on what you can do with your .ibooks file if you do not plan to charge for it.
    • If you do plan to sell your .ibooks file, you ARE required to sell that .ibooks file through the iBookstore and Apple WILL take a 30% cut of the sales in exchange for hosting and promoting it.
      • That 70% cut the author receives is wildly generous compared to traditional publishers. As an example, when Amazon first began publishing eBooks, it was considered generous for only KEEPING 70%, which was the case until the iBookstore was introduced and Amazon updated its terms.
    • The .ibooks file would not play today on any other device, license or not.
    • It’s relatively unlikely that the .ibooks format could be reverse-engineered to play on other devices in the foreseeable future even without licensing restrictions.

    Essentially, Apple has provided a free tool specifically for authoring for the iBookstore and placed this legal clause in so that Amazon could not (as a hypothetical example) offer a service to import .ibooks files and make them available through Amazon. There is nothing preventing you from taking the content of the book and publishing it elsewhere using that store’s tools.

    Bott brings up Adobe (with Photoshop and JPEGs), but that’s pretty clearly a false equivalency since JPEG is an open-standard not owned by Adobe. In fact, Adobe offers up a pretty good counter-example to Bott’s argument that this is over-reaching since Adobe has a pretty long history of suing groups over their own proprietary formats being reverse-engineered.

    Personally, I don’t like the policy and honestly think this harms Apple far more than it harms any potential authors. I’m frustrated because I’d love to have an Apple-quality application for creating eBooks, but I’m not ready to require everyone to have an iPad in order to read them. The world definitely needs high quality tools for creating cross-platform eBooks, but I can’t see how that’s Apple problem to solve for the world. And while it’s easy for those who dislike Apple (as Bott clearly does) to paint a headline-grabbing picture of corporate greed, Apple’s content sales (Apps, Music, Movies and Books) constitute less than 1% of its revenue so it really doesn’t make much sense as their motivation here.

    There are plenty of legitimate reasons to be concerned about Apple’s business practices. This is not one of them.

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