The Apple iBooks Author Issue: Small things, and large principles

The short version: I have removed my books from sale on iBookstore because Apple has included a clause in software I don’t use and wouldn’t have used anyway a clause claiming the right to refuse publication on its platform of works created with this software (which is fine and I applaud their right) and further stating that if they reject your work you cannot sell it in the format the software created anywhere else.


Here’s the clause:

B. Distribution of your Work. As a condition of this License and provided you are in compliance with its terms, your Work may be distributed as follows:

(i) if your Work is provided for free (at no charge), you may distribute the Work by any available means;
(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.

And then the next paragraph is bold-faced, just so you don’t miss it:

Apple will not be responsible for any costs, expenses, damages, losses (including
without limitation lost business opportunities or lost profits) or other liabilities you may incur as a result of your use of this Apple Software, including without limitation the fact that your Work may not be selected for distribution by Apple.

Here’s the guy who found, dissected, and posted about it, along with his dissection, and it will save us a BUNCH of time if you read his article.

So what’s the problem? You’re not going to use the damn software anyway!

Nope. I’m not. But I had ten books up on the iBookstore, which I put there using iTunes Producer, which is software. I do my epub versions of most of my books in iWorks Pages, which is software. And I work on Apple computers, an iPad, and an iPhone, all of which use Apple software. OS X and iOS 5 at the moment.

And the rule of software is this: Software does not get to dictate the use of output. Period. Software does not get to tell you WHERE you can sell what you’ve created, only that you have the right to sell it (in the cases where software requires a commercial license if you are producing for profit).

Software does not get to tell you, “If you create this work on our software and we don’t want to distribute it, we own the rights to the version our software created, and if you want another version, you will have to disassemble this one, and rebuild it from scratch on other software.”

The purpose of purchasing and/or using software is to make your work easier.

It is not to have the software claim ownership of any part of what you have created with it.

There is no difference—except in number of people affected—between a company claiming ownership of the rights to something you created with its ebook publisher, and something you created with its OS.

    The principle is identical.

(Apple is not claiming to own rights to your work if you work on OS X. My removal of my own work from their site is on principle, not because my own work is affected.)

And there is no number of people affected that is insignificant. The smallest minority is the individual, and minority rights protect the rights of the individual because those are the only rights there are.

So THAT is why I pulled all my books from distribution on the iBookstore, why none of my further books or any of my writing courses will be going to the iBookstore, and why I can no longer recommend the iBookstore to my students.

And this in spite of the fact that Apple makes my favorite products in the world, and I hate like hell having to do this.

And if they remove their damn clause and respect the purpose of creative software and the rights of the individual, I’ll go back.

COMMENTS have now been closed on this post.  Please read the follow-up post, and if you choose, comment there.

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178 responses to “The Apple iBooks Author Issue: Small things, and large principles”

  1. Olivia Avatar

    Wow, some people think so highly of themselves that they believe they have a right to anything. Even intellectual property they played no part in. They should charge a fee for their software. Period. What people create with said software is none of their business. Literally. If they wish to be party to the “business” of said intellectual property namely its sale they should conduct a fair and legitimate business i.e.: charge a small commission for sales made so as to maintain server maintenances, any administration fees and a little profit to fill the coffers. You know, like a normal business.

    Being in the legal field I understand some companies, i.e.: people running said companies, want to eliminate competition. So they create Prohibition Contracts. These Prohibition Contracts prevent skilled employees/workers/artists/etc from taking any training, skills and intellectual property to other companies. So they are to only share intellectual property with the company under contract and no one else and when same expires employees’/workers’/artists’/etc may not conducted the same business within a certain jurisdiction, or work for certain groups of companies or do the same work for a certain period of time.

    Appel appear to be attempting to create this assumption “slyfully” behind peoples back without their consent or signing of a contract, or at least not knowing they are. They wish to hold the market on certain intellectual property so as to keep same from the competition. Ensuring they hold the all the market chips. So if there is a “fan base” or any kind of profit to be made, they would get it all.

    My advice to all who wish to put up their intellectual proper to read and understand all clauses, legal lingo can be quite confusing and sometimes appear irrelevant as it is designed to “trick” the layman, before agreeing, or “ticking” any agreement. Become legal savvy when dealing with your intellectual property. Feel free to be wholly possessive of it. Far too many people miss out and get taken for a ride because of their own ignorance.

    Lust for power and money is an inevitable fact. Do what you love freely, but share it wisely. Don’t let others hold all chips when it comes to your intellectual property.

  2. Stephen Brandon Avatar
    Stephen Brandon

    I use Linux, actually Fedora 16 now as my operating system on my computer. I’ve been using Open Office, which is now Libre Office. I have my templates set up on it and it works great, plus it is open source !!! FREE !!!.
    Check it out, you’ll be amazed at its versatility.

  3. James Avatar

    You got it wrong, Holly, and so did Ziff-Davis. The restriction is on files created in a specific format *and* sold on the iBookstore, not “every files you create with our new free tool and want to sell”.

    Plenty of sources got it right, though, and realized the stunning potential of this news.

  4. Sjd Avatar

    So yes I always read the fine print that comes w the software, even the ‘free’ stuff..going on 30 years now.

    And all are not created equal
    All are til proven otherwise binding contracts
    All were written by NOT YOUR lawyer
    And most want to treat you like an idiot sleaze who WANTS to be abused

    But taking your intellectual capital because you typed inside the green box instead of the blue one, that’s outrageous even for apple (and yes I’ve been an interested observer since apple and microsoft were suing each other for stealing xerox’s intellectual capital and creating this revolution almost 30 years ago, did you know the guy that finally figured out how to make the mouse really work, donated all the patent proceeds to charity, but only because apple and Microsoft didn’t manage to steal it and sue him into the stone age).

    I agree w the outrage. If they want to make money from their software they can do it up front and in the open. Charge for it. Even charge me more for it (which they do).

    I like a good gadget and appreciate a fine os or software package, song, or book…. And ALWAYS pay. But not with all my endeavors forever, thank you no apple.

    I love Shakespeare .
    Reading the Bard early and often helped me learn the lyric and flow of a beautiful and useful tool, English.

    But I’m not giving his estate the rights to all my thoughts just because they all follow in his footsteps and are (nominally) in ‘his English’ ( my regrets to Bill, but he would forgive he analogy).

    Dispite what an earlier commentor says, just cause its apple or just cause its ‘great software’ doesn’t mean they get to radically change the business model and we all fall right in line. And if we really don’t like how we are being treated, we can (til a judge says they aren’t ours anymore) take our marbles or in this case books, ELSEWHERE.


  5. Danzier Avatar

    The thing that got me was that they defined “A Work” by using the word “work”. My third grade teacher called that circular reasoning and marked it wrong on my spelling papers. It would allow Apple to redefine “work” at any time. There are over 50 definitions of “work” on, and I don’t want Apple to pick and choose which of those definitions may apply. So, I’m not using the software…and I’m reccommending my school board not invest in it.

  6. Lee Avatar

    lol make = Mac. Hit the damn post by accident before I proofed it. Forgive me. 🙂

  7. Lee Avatar

    I think if I hadn’t really gotten into gaming, I’d probably have navigated to a make. I remember coming up as a young writer of watching someone working on a Mac. Reminded me a lot of using GEOS on the Commodore 64/128.

    But instead I gravitated to the Amiga 500 and a huge chunk of my body of work was produced with WordPerfect for Amiga.

    WordPerfect is elegant but has a steep learning curve. I wish I’d have kept using it instead of jumping to MS Word once I started messing with IBM/Clone machines.

    What kept me on those machines was the broader range of programs *cough*Games*cough, and so that led me to finally start using Word.

    I’ll say this. I’ve not had any major issues with Word, and that has been from platforms like 486 up through Pentium and my current AMD based rig. Office ’97, 2000, 2003, and (currently) 2K7. I’ve had maybe one glitch where 2K7 locked up on me after a long spell of writing without saving (My Bad!), but the document recover feature managed to catch at least 90% of the new material I’d written so it wasn’t that much of a hassle.

    I’ll probably be still using Windows based Machines when I breathe my last, but it has nothing to do with any bad feelings about Macs. It’s just what I’m used to both as a user and builder of IBM machines.

    (sidebar: I got a real pleasant blast of nostalgia when I ran GEOS for the Commodore 64/128 on an emulator and saw my very first novel I’d ever written in it’s original environment. As homage to my humble beginnings I used images I created on the original C64 and a 286 in the design cover on my current eBook I am about to post to Amazon/B&N)

    So that was a really roundabout way of saying if MS demanded that I sell my books–that I’m trying to support myself on, mind you–through only one outlet AND that outlet retains the right to refuse distributing my work for pay, but I can give it away anywhere else I want…

    This helps my goal of supporting myself on my writing exactly how–?

    Or am I missing something about teh Apple EULA clause–?