Government // Mobile & Wireless
03:37 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
Connect Directly

Apple's iBooks Author Software: Just Say No

Buried in the iBooks Author software license agreement is a contractual requirement that gives Apple considerable power over content that you create using the software.

Apple, which five years ago encouraged music labels to sell songs without digital restriction management (DRM), has embraced an alternate means of control: legal restriction management.

The end-user license agreement for iBooks Author, Apple's new tool for creating electronic textbooks, stipulates that works created with the software can be sold only through Apple--free titles are exempted--unless Apple provides written consent. It also states that Apple may refuse to sell electronic textbooks created with its software and that content creators cannot claim lost profits for rejected works.

Apple's decision to rely on contractual rather than technical means to insulate itself from competition has provoked a strong response. Dan Wineman, an iOS developer, posted a scathing condemnation of Apple's software in a blog post on Thursday.

[ Google+ has reached 90 million users. Read Google Revenue Misses, But Google+ Surges. ]

Even blogger John Gruber, who tends to sympathize with Apple's side of the argument when controversies arise, objected. "This is Apple at its worst," he wrote. "Let's hope this is just the work of an overzealous lawyer, and not their actual intention."

Why the outcry?

"Apple, in this EULA, is claiming a right not just to its software, but to its software's output," Wineman wrote. "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."

In fact, there is precedent: Apple's software for creating ads, iAd Producer, imposes similar terms on its users. Its EULA states that the software may be used for "the sole purpose of creating advertisements for use, display and distribution exclusively on Apple-branded devices via Apple's advertising network." Thus it cannot be used to create ads for distribution on other ad networks.

Mitch Stolz, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes that although such restrictions are not unheard of in high-end design or enterprise software, he finds Apple's approach worrisome. "It's a step in a troubling direction because [the limitations affect] a piece of software that looks like it enables a very general end-user creative process."

He suggests that had Apple been clearer about the software's limitations up front, or had it tied the output files to a proprietary format--iBook files are based on the ePub standard--Apple's restrictions would not have been an issue.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment, but the company has plenty of self-appointed defenders. They argue that Apple is giving away iBooks Author for free and that the company deserves the opportunity to recoup its costs and to set terms as it sees fit.

There's some merit to that position. Content creators are under no obligation to use Apple's software to create iBooks or other digital book formats. You can take it or leave it, and you're probably better off leaving it and using software for which you've paid enough to retain your content ownership rights, such as Adobe InDesign.

If iBooks Author turns out to be the tool you need, use it with the knowledge that although the software is free, it comes at a price.

How one comes by that knowledge is the real issue here: Apple's decision to impose contractual terms to protect its business is upsetting because few people actually read such contracts and because Apple took no steps to make its unusual requirements clear. Had Apple made its software's limitations more obvious to potential users, the outcry would have been less.

As it stands, the lack of disclosure will almost certainly lead to people creating iBooks without realizing that they have surrendered important rights to Apple. Apple requires its developers to provide adequate notice about data collection and privacy practices. It ought to provide such notice in a clear and conspicuous manner when its own rules deviate from expected norms.

As enterprises ramp up cloud adoption, service-level agreements play a major role in ensuring quality enterprise application performance. Follow our four-step process to ensure providers live up to their end of the deal. It's all in our Cloud SLA report. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
User Rank: Apprentice
1/20/2012 | 10:24:02 PM
re: Apple's iBooks Author Software: Just Say No
"...Apple is giving away iBooks Author for free and that the company deserves the opportunity to recoup its costs... "

Drug dealers use the business model.
User Rank: Apprentice
1/21/2012 | 1:00:12 AM
re: Apple's iBooks Author Software: Just Say No
Please Mr. Claburn tell me you have better bone to pick with Apple than a line on their EULA that demand royalty for their sweat.
I hope you realize that they do not restrick anyone from publishing their manuscript on any other platform or outlet. .. just dont use their software to do it. Plain and simple.
If you were in their shoes you will likely ask for the same.
Steve G.
Steve G.,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/21/2012 | 1:22:11 AM
re: Apple's iBooks Author Software: Just Say No
Actually, you're wrong. If you choose to publish through iBook, you are forever tied to Apple. What's worse is that it's the act of using iBook that binds you to Apple, not submitting your content to the Apple Store. If Apple doesn't accept your work, you're completely SOL trying to make money on your work through any other channel.

This is exactly analogous to Microsoft claiming that all Word documents can only be published through Microsoft. You can't print it, distribute it as a PDF or anything else where you expect to make any money.

Ed Bott at "another magazine" has a more thorough rundown of all the particulars.
User Rank: Apprentice
1/21/2012 | 1:23:13 AM
re: Apple's iBooks Author Software: Just Say No
EPUB is not a proprietary format. It's an open format (see We'd hate to let the facts get in the way for getting things right.

One assumes also that Apple sees electronic textbooks as being akin to apps. So, by providing tools to create the books, they see it as reasonable to only release ebooks through their own storefront.

Author is north theory ePub creation tool out there. There is nothing forcing anyone to use Author or iBooks.

In my view, this story is a beat up.
User Rank: Apprentice
1/21/2012 | 10:23:00 AM
re: Apple's iBooks Author Software: Just Say No
Actually, Steve, if I want to publish my book elsewhere, my creative property is still my own to do so...however I must use a different tool to assemble it (like InDesign) and I actually thought that was clear in the little blurb I read about iBooks Author on Apple's website, not buried under mountains of EULA.

If you don't want to be stuck selling through Apple's channels, do not use their (free) software for pre-press assembly. While unprecedented I understand why they are doing this (from a business perspective) it is about creating and / or preserving an "eco" system.

It is not much different than something like that give you free website authoring tools to use to create your website on their servers. It probably would have been more accurate to public perception had iAuthor been a component of iBooks 2 rather than a stand alone application or as this article suggested, that it only create output in a proprietary format that only iBooks understands. One can only hope that after Apple has recouped R&D costs they will allow multiple format exports and open sales venues for content created with iAuthor.

Using Word as an example of this is actually quite humorous. Despite the fact that people could always save as out of Word and send their documents to other people who may not have the latest version of Word, most people I've worked with (who are intelligent business people) could never figure out how to do that. The answer to not knowing which VERSION of Word to email your document to? Why, make sure everyone in the company always had the latest and greatest most up to date version of Word. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt kept people in the Windows / Office lock cycle.

Kind of like trying to convince people your operating system would no longer even work if web browser was not bundled with it...
User Rank: Ninja
1/21/2012 | 5:34:08 PM
re: Apple's iBooks Author Software: Just Say No
There are several things not being understood here. First is that the largest publisher and seller of e-books is Amazon. Amazon's format is completely propriatary. Understand that. Yet, it doesn't stop publishers from publishing using other formats for other sellers like Apple and Barnes & Noble.

In addition, we have various app stores, each using their own formats and development tools.

In this case, Apple's program is called iBook Author. It's clearly labeled. The purpose is to publish books to sell in Apple's iBook Store. But Apple does allow the material to be published elsewhere if given away for free. That's more than Amazon allows.

If other software is used, then authors can publish their books through that, and sell them. Right now, they won't be as good that way, but it can be done. After all all the material for these books is produced outside of Apple's program. It's just put together there, and uses the features to allow special functions.

Adobe has their program for something similar, and it's also propriatary. But Adobe has no way to publish or sell those books.
User Rank: Strategist
1/21/2012 | 7:32:04 PM
re: Apple's iBooks Author Software: Just Say No
News Flash: ALL publishers have exclusivity agreements with authors, so no one should have any of their works published by others. Instead, all authors should buy their own printing presses or Internet servers, and set up their own marketing and distribution companies, so that they are not under the thumb of publishers. (Sarcasm alert ;-))
User Rank: Apprentice
1/22/2012 | 11:40:07 AM
re: Apple's iBooks Author Software: Just Say No
Maybe Apple does not want trash published on their site. You should stick to the old tree killing methods.
User Rank: Apprentice
1/22/2012 | 12:43:11 PM
re: Apple's iBooks Author Software: Just Say No
This is not unprecedented, you are just twisting it so. iBooks is an extension their service, much like BookSmart is to In fact its very common, but many times the app is web based.

"Apple may refuse to sell electronic textbooks created with its software" And so they should, thats what publishers do. Separate the wheat from the chaff, sounds like good business.

It simple. If your smart, and your content is worthwhile, Just say yes!
User Rank: Apprentice
1/22/2012 | 12:52:39 PM
re: Apple's iBooks Author Software: Just Say No
Hmm no, Steve G, *YOU* are wrong.

I read iBooks Author's EULA and it only prohibits work "generated" by the program to be sold outside of iBooks store. The EULA clearly uses the word "generate". There is NO wording that says the "contents" of your Ebooks (e.g. text, pictures, etc) cannot be sold anywhere else. That means you can create eBooks of the same contents using other authoring tools and sell them outside of iBooks store. The EULA simply prohibits files "generated" by iBooks Author be sold outside of iBooks Store.

Also your Microsoft Word analogy is dumb because Word is NOT a free program. You have to pay to for the software so naturally you would not want any restriction on what you can do with files you created using Word.

On the other hand, iBooks Author is a *FREE* program designed specifically to create and publish eBooks to the iBooks store.

Apple is not obligated to provide you a *FREE* authoring tool so you can use it to produce eBook files to be sold on other platforms. Why should Apple do that? Does Adobe provide InDesign for free? Does Microsoft provide Word for free? NO.

Since you can submit standard EPUB files to iBooks store, you DO NOT need to use iBooks Author. You can use Adobe InDesign or even Apple's Page to create EPUB files but those programs are not free.

Once again, you DO NOT need to use iBooks Author to create eBooks to be sold in iBooks store. And please don't mention how Word or Photoshop do not restrict on what you can do with files created. Those are NOT FREE programs.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Elite 100 Digital Issue, April 2015
The 27th annual ranking of the leading US users of business technology
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join the editors for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of May 24, 2015.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.