John Gruber wagers that Apple doesn’t mean what it says in the iBooks Author EULA:
I’m willing to bet cold hard cash that Apple has no intention to and will never try to stop a publisher or author from taking content written in iBooks Author and publishing it elsewhere in another format. No one will ever hear from Apple after exporting from iBooks Author to text or PDF.
But I think the license is crummily written, because it’s not precisely clear what Apple is saying. If Apple wants to make bold and far-reaching licensing restrictions, they should express them clearly and succinctly. Whereas I think, much like with the App Store, their lawyers seek to express the legal restrictions in terms far broader than what they actually seek to enforce. I’m willing to make the above bet based on my understanding of the company and the way Apple thinks, not the language of the EULA.
I agree; I don’t think Apple plans to restrict anything but its own .ibooks format. But that doesn’t matter because, as Mike Ash puts it, “Unless we’re friends, your intentions don’t matter to me at all, only your actions.” Apple isn’t anyone’s friend but Apple’s, and its actions so far are to reserve a broad swath of rights pertaining to everything iBooks Author is capable of “generating” (whatever that means).
Even if we’re right and Apple doesn’t care about PDFs or plain text files, that’s still the Apple of today. The Apple of 20 years from now might turn out to be a completely different company, and this EULA has no expiration date. That’s a dangerous situation for authors and publishers who care about long-term distribution rights. It would be best for Apple to clarify the terms now — and, I hope, loosen them — rather than prolong the uncertainty.
UPDATE (3 Feb. 2012): They just did.