Apple’s iBook Author EULA and Smashword’s Meatgrinder ToS are Birds of A Feather

publishing.pngThe license agreement for Apple’s iBook Author program can accurately be summed up by this headline: “Apple’s mind-bogglingly greedy and evil license agreement“. And I agree completely with this, though I’m a little surprised that folks seem upset and think this is something new.

Now, this isn’t for selling on the iBookstore, but for their eBook authoring program. The very, very short form:
If you create an eBook using iBooks Author, and intend to ever charge money for it, you may only sell the output through Apple. And that’s only if they accept it.

Before folks get all over me (or Apple) for them claiming copyright to your precious words, they are not. You can still output your words in plain text. Apple are claiming that they get to control the output of their program. As Ed Bott put it in the article I link to 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.

It is evil – but it’s been done before. By one of Apple’s distribution partners. Smashword’s mandatory requirement you use their conversion software (and restrictive license agreement1) is equally mind-bogglingly greedy and evil.

With the advent of iBook Author, Apple is looking to maintain the same degree of control over content while cutting out the middleman – in this case, Smashwords.

I can’t say I blame them – they want in on the indie/selfpub/vip/wev authors, but they want to keep avoiding the issues that others (wave at Amazon) have had with relatively unfettered access.

Regardless, I think this move to control the output of a program – any program – is inherently evil. It was bad when Smashwords did it as a requirement to use their distribution method, and it’s just as bad when Apple does it.

No matter how much I like my iPhone.

1I just noticed that you can now ask for written permission to use the output elsewhere. Still, my point kind of remains as long as there are independent tools that can do the same thing and the requirement of using Meatgrinder remains.