January 22, 2012

#Infowars: The e-publishing Orwellianism of Apple

This is part of an ongoing series of blogpost about online "infowars" (NOT related to anything by Alex Jones!), itself a subset of my "dark side of the Internet" set of blog posts.

That said ...

Apple, the company of the "1984" commercial, once again opens itself to hypocrisy charges with its end user licensing agreement for its e-publishing system. The complaints by would-be e-book authors are coming fast and furious about Apple's attempts to keep control of e-book content published for money on its system after initial publication, per a link inside the story above.:
Apple, in this EULA, is claiming a right not just to its software, but to its software’s output. It’s akin to Microsoft trying to restrict what people can do with Word documents, or Adobe declaring that if you use Photoshop to export a JPEG, you can’t freely sell it to Getty. As far as I know, in the consumer software industry, this practice is unprecedented.
Here's the exact language from Apple:
 (ii) if your Work is provided for a fee (including as part of any subscription-based product or service), you may only distribute the Work through Apple and such distribution is subject to the following limitations and conditions: (a) you will be required to enter into a separate written agreement with Apple (or an Apple affiliate or subsidiary) before any commercial distribution of your Work may take place; and (b) Apple may determine for any reason and in its sole discretion not to select your Work for distribution.
In other words, Apple wants sole distribution rights if you use its e-pub system. AND, it can say "eff you" at any time in the process of approval for you to use its system.

Connect that with Apple wanting to be THE e-publisher for school textbooks, and we have a problem, Houston.

That said, this IS Apple. And, no, this surely is NOT something that popped up after Steve Jobs' death. He surely had this in the pipeline long before he went to oblivion.

What's next? Amazon responding? Google starting its own e-books publication program, at least for paying authors? Both of those companies putting some code in e-books on their system, like an old-fashioned scrambler on pay cable channels, to prevent their being read elsewhere? Add in that Apple's system reportedly has compatibility issues and we're already heading that way.

Given that e-publishing is still relatively new AND that Amazon (and others) are challenging iPad in the tablet world, I'm going to guess that most self-publishing, for-profit authors who have brains are simply going to avoid and ignore Apple.

And that, in two-three years, Apple will quietly pull in its horns.

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