venomous porridge
I’m Dan Wineman and sometimes I post things here.
You could follow @dwineman on Twitter or App.net, or email me.
Jan
20th
2012
permalink

Common Misconceptions about What I Wrote Yesterday

In a probably-futile attempt to stem the tide of redundant comments, I’ll address some of the more frequent reactions to my last post:

If you don’t like it, don’t use it! Duh.
You’re missing the point. The issue is that this is a software EULA which for the first time attempts to restrict what I can do with the output of the app, rather than with the app itself. No consumer EULA I’ve ever seen goes this far. Would you be happy if Garage Band required you to sell your music through the iTunes Store, or if iPhoto had license terms that kept you from posting your own photos online? It’s a step backward for computing freedom and we should resist it.

Plenty of EULAs restrict what you can do with software. That’s the whole point.
Yes, restricting use is what EULAs have traditionally done. This one does something different: it restricts what you can do with the output of the software after the software is closed and put away. If you make a document using iBooks Author, you aren’t allowed to sell that document except through Apple, ever, for the rest of your life.

Interestingly, as the author of the document and presumed signatory to the iBooks Author EULA, you’re the only person to whom that restriction applies. If you gave your iBook to a friend, Apple would have no control over what your friend did with it. And you could sell your friend’s iBooks too, because you aren’t the one who used iBooks Author to generate them.

Yeah, but that only applies to .ibooks files. You can also export .pdf and .txt and those are unrestricted.
Not true. The license defines “Work” as “any book or other work you generate using this software.” That definitely includes PDF and plain text, and it could be construed to include the very words you type in. So if you use iBooks Author to write your novel, you might be legally barred from ever selling that novel in any format, not just as an iBook. UPDATE (3 Feb 2012): Apple has clarified the license to indicate that only the .ibooks format is covered.

Wait, so Apple’s taking my copyrights away?
No no no, just your right to sell the output of iBooks Author on your own or through any other store.

But why would you want to sell iBooks anywhere but in the iBookstore?
It doesn’t matter why, since I made the iBook myself and should be free to do as I please with it. But if you must have a reason, here are five: because Apple’s cut is too high; because I already have an arrangement with another publisher or online store; because I want to sell my work in a country the iBookstore doesn’t serve; because the iBookstore doesn’t let me offer academic pricing, bulk rates, or loyalty discounts; because I tried selling through Apple and they refused.

iBooks Author is free, so Apple deserves a cut.
How on earth does that follow? Xcode is free, and software companies have been using it and the tools that preceded it for decades to build Mac software that they’ve distributed without Apple’s help, and without paying Apple for the privilege. We buy hardware from Apple, and Apple provides the tools to enable us to make that hardware more useful so that more people will buy it. The same virtuous circle could exist for the iPad and iBooks if Apple hadn’t overreached with this ridiculous license.

That’s what the EULA says, so quit whining!
Do you really want EULAs to be able to say anything they please? Do you want copyright holders to have unlimited control over what you can do with legally obtained copies of their work? It’s not even clear that EULAs can be enforced at all. So even if you’re on Apple’s side in this argument, wouldn’t you rather they based their money grab on a sound legal theory?

It’s the same having to sell iOS apps through the App Store.
No, it’s not. The license terms for Xcode (PDF link) don’t contain any language restricting the use of files generated by Xcode. And when you join the iOS Developer Program, there’s a separate contract you’re required to consciously agree to, once a year and each time it’s updated, before you can download your development certificate. But if you don’t join the program, nothing stops you from continuing to use Xcode’s output however you like.

Like I said: unprecedented.

blog comments powered by Disqus