Market Overview

Apple: Su iBook Es Mi iBook

If you write stuff for a living, and were looking to use your latest, say, industrial report, to test Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) just-released iBook, you may have gotten this as you went to export your brainchild. If you also happen to be one of those prolifically curious users of any software that forgoes the fine print in the interest of expediency, you may have committed a portion of your (or your company's) future cash flows from that product. Forever!

It was exactly this situation software developer Dan Wineman found himself into. Lucky for him, he pays attention!

Here's what Mr. Wineman read as he dug in on Section 2B:

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.

Apple's attempt to monetize on products from its own app did not appear too unreasonable to Mr. Wineman on face value. After all, the app was free to begin with. “Here is the problem,” he says, “I didn't agree to it. Apple wants me to believe I did, of course, just by using the software.” He, or I for that matter, did not get asked to check an “Agree” box before installing iBooks.

So, to Dan Wineman, Apple has crossed a previously undisturbed threshold in not just asserting rights over its own software, but over the output as well. In a separate note, titled Common Misconceptions, that he had to write in response to the no-man's land that became his first post's comment box, he argues that Apple has gone a step too far no matter how familiar the practice may appear to less sensitized users. “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,” he writes.

Another company that knows their software quickly weighed in on the issue. Frank Shaw is PR Chief for Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) had three consecutive tweets on the subject.

1. If you write a novel in Word, we promise not to take a 30% cut

2. Likewise, if you deliver a speech in PowerPoint, we promise not to take 30% of your speaking fee

3. if you manage your finances in Excel, we promise not to take 30% of your income

Can you say ZING!?

Not quite! As fun as it is to beat on Apple, and believe they have finally made THE fumble, it knows how to land on its feet. Apple revolutionizes markets, and revolutions aren't known to be peaceful. Authors giving up their rights to sell their words anywhere but Apple's bookstores may be just THE revolution at play here.

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