John Gruber comments:
This is Apple at its worst. Let’s hope this just the work of an overzealous lawyer, and not their actual intention.
It’s got to only cover the sale of an iBooks Author output file, and the exact binary output of the iBooks Author file type. The content of the book, the plain text, images, diagrams, media, questions and answers must surely be retained by the writer/publisher for their own use.
I can’t see Apple getting mad that a publisher decides to publish an iBooks Author version and an ePub or HTML5 version, selling each in their respective stores. But if a publisher used the output of iBooks Author to be converted as-is, or wholly imported into a competitor’s product or interpreter, I could see a cause for being upset. Apple has an interest in not fragmenting their Store system, and so this claim seems fine and consistent with it’s other well known App Store regulations regarding free corporate and education app distribution.
It’s hardly like Apple makes the claim that because Angry Birds is on iOS that they are legally bound to not sell their product on any other platform.
It would be impossible to defend the point that a letter drafted in MS Office would belong to MS given a similar interpreted EULA. The binary output, perhaps could have those rights withheld, but the author would retain the ability to take their content and place it in some other container or file format, one that that MS wouldn’t own, and therefore only have rights to the MS Word derivative. However, MS word is not sold as a a means of creating products of value and/or for sale by it’s end users.
If you think this is a new concept, of claiming ownership or control of use of the output of a software product, you’re highly mistaken. Companies that make software for research (as in math and science) often have student, evaluation, and full versions that might be full featured form a technical sense, but contain license agreements that work done with these be limited to classwork, in-class demonstrations, or research purposes. Why should a researcher grift a software company when grant money is meant to pay for this sort of technical development? They’re free to take their input elsewhere to be processed into results or grow their own solution. But for many, the problems to entry have already been solved and is affordable to those individuals.
For the case of interactive, reliable, media-driven book-like apps, the problem was just recently solved by iBooks Author, where previously there was no off-the-shelf solution. And with some apps never getting updates by being dropped by their developers, the problem was likely to be just as bad as physical books being out of date the moment they’re printed, because these attempts at coffee-table apps required a technical niche to be readable. The iPad being “popular” as a device does not negate the issue of development being a niche.
Compatible file formats, maintained by a central body, being the same body that manufactures the devices, focused on providing consistent experiences, and being able to fix bugs when authors and developers are long unable to return to the source. It makes sense that Apple wants to be assured that a publisher won’t try to swindle the tool-makers or collude with the competition with Apple’s own hard work without their fair share.
This interpretation of the EULA will likely be yet another misinterpreted policy or intention that will remain a talking point in freedom-airheads such as Richard Stallman and Cory Doctrow (although I really enjoyed his speech at 28c3).