Archive for January 19, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Audacious iBooks Author EULA

Dan Wineman (via John Gruber):

In other words: Apple is trying to establish a rule that whatever I create with this application, if I sell it, I have to give them a cut.

Gus Mueller:

I really hope Xcode doesn’t ship with the same restrictions some day. “Binaries created through Xcode can only be sold through the App Store, and you can’t charge more than $15.99”.

Update (2012-01-24): Dan Wineman:

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.

It’s a terrible precedent to set. And it’s interesting what it says about Apple itself. It’s understandable that iBooks Author doesn’t use ePub; Apple made the app to solve its problem, not yours. But preventing you, by license, from using the app for your own purposes is overly controlling and yet oddly defensive. If iBooks were so great, wouldn’t it win on its own merits?

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.

I don’t think this is what Apple meant, but the vagueness of the license is not comforting.

Dan Wineman again:

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).

Mike Ash also has a full post on this:

At worst, Apple is trying to make a subtle land grab here, either by seeing just how far the courts will let them enforce this term, or with simple FUD to create a chilling effect on authors who wouldn’t risk a lawsuit. At best, Apple meant well and screwed up the wording. Not really excusable for a gigantic company with hordes of lawyers on staff. If that is the case, then no doubt they will clarify it at some point. But until then, we must deal with what they say, not with what we imagine they intended.

Guy English:

My question then is, why does it have to be free? What’s wrong with the old-fashioned model of asking for money for something of value? If Final Cut Pro XII came out for free but required distribution via iCloudVideo would that be acceptable? It strikes me that the good old-fashioned buy-your-tools-and-your-work-is-your-own model works quite well. This change to giving away free tools but locking down (legally) what you can do with them doesn’t sit right with me.

Update (2012-02-03): The Mac Observer and others report that Apple has added this sentence to the EULA:

This restriction does not apply to the content of such works when distributed in a form that does not include files in the .ibooks format.

This is a welcome change, although it makes the restriction itself seem even more unnecessary. Apple is apparently OK with you using iBooks Author to create e-books and then convert the .ibooks files to .epub and sell them. You can also use (hypothetical) third-party software to create .ibooks files and sell them. But you’re not allowed to create and sell .ibooks files with iBooks Author—although it’s not clear how Apple would be able to determine which app created the file.

iBooks Author

Matt Gemmell:

Naturally, once your text is in iBooks Author, you’re essentially writing and editing within a page-layout application, rather than a word processor or text editor. As with any publishing workflow, you will want to do the writing and editing first, and then put the book together (as much as possible). iBooks Author is resolutely not a writing environment.

Serenity Caldwell:

iPad-exclusivity aside, those willing to work in iBooks Author should be quite pleased. It’s the best WYSIWYG ebook designer I’ve seen on the market so far, and—formatting problems excluded—incredibly easy to work with.