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  • EFF: Apple Like a "Jealous Feudal Lord"


    In a surprise move yesterday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation got a hold of the previously secret Apple iPhone Developer Program License Agreement and posted it on their website. Comparing Apple to a "jealous and arbitrary feudal lord," the San Francisco-based digital rights group said that the computer maker was taking advantage of its control over the App Store to make devs agree to unfair conditions. EFF warns that "the future of computing" that Apple heralds is clouded by restrictions like a ban on reverse engineering and selling in alternative marketplaces like Cydia... even if your app gets rejected by Apple.

    EFF got a hold of the confidential document after NASA created its own official app last year. Cleverly, the activists filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the space agency, which was forced to comply, even though the document forbids even government agencies from talking about its contents. Interestingly, though, the document does not define itself as "Confidential…" you just can get sued if you talk about it. Weird.

    Software license agreements are often pretty restrictive, but this one goes farther than most. In section 7.2 it says that if you use the iPhone SDK you can only sell your app on the App Store, and that Apple can reject an app for any reason at all: even if it meets all of Apple's own requirements, your app can still be rejected, and then you can get sued if you try to sell it on Cydia or Rock Your Phone. And Apple also claims the right kill your app whenever they want, for any reason, including that they just feel like it. The stipulation that they can "revoke the digital certificate of any of Your Applications at any time" is a clear reference to the "kill switch" that Steve Jobs admits they have.

    Although reverse engineering for things like testing interoperability of your code has been recognized by the judicial system as a fair use under copyright law, section 2.6 not only flat prohibits you any reverse engineering of the iPhone OS or SDK, but even forbids you from making anything that might "enable others" to do any reverse engineering. Similarly, the ban on jailbreaking in section 3.2(e) doesn't just cover the iPhone but tinkering with any Apple software or technology, or "enabling others to do so." This means that if you write an App Store app but also do some work that helps some guy develop a hackintosh bootloader, for example, you can get sued.

    And adding injury to insult, section 14 says that, no matter what they do to you, Apple will never be liable for more than $50 in damages. So even if they sue you for something you didn't do, push a firmware update that breaks your app, or accidentally hit the kill switch and destroy your business, you're legally prevented from suing Apple for more than an amount the EFF puckishly notes is "the cost of a nice dinner for one in Cupertino."

    EFF observes that Apple holds the whip hand in this because it controls access to 40 million iPhone and iPod owners, and is using its position to squeeze unreasonable demands from the developer community. "If Apple wants to be a real leader, it should be fostering innovation and competition, rather than acting as a jealous and arbitrary feudal lord," said EFF senior staff attorney Fred von Lohmann in a legal analysis on the group's web site entitled All Your Apps Are Belong to Apple. "Developers should demand better terms," he writes, "and customers who love their iPhones should back them."
    This article was originally published in forum thread: EFF: Apple Like a "Jealous Feudal Lord" started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 35 Comments
    1. uipe's Avatar
      uipe -
      Comparing a political system with an enterprise model is just stupid... NO ONE is forced to accept their laws nor to accept their licenses...

      Ppl should start thinking more about finding alternatives rather than wasting time bashing those that they have....
    1. CaptainChaos's Avatar
      CaptainChaos -
      It is Apple's device. Like it or leave it. Everyone knows how they operate and yet people still seem surprised? Android will dominate once it has been polished.
    1. extremzocker's Avatar
      extremzocker -
      Quote Originally Posted by dsg View Post
      Appl£ shouldn't be compared to Microsoft anymore, they should be compared with Hitler
      wow easy! i know people get pissed off at apple and rightfully so but comparing them to someone who killed between 11 - 17 million people is too far.

      calm down...
    1. Bluprint's Avatar
      Bluprint -
      apple has been killing innocent apps and business for years
    1. Evilsaint's Avatar
      Evilsaint -
      hey i have doubt does this mean that apple have the rights to render my jailbroken iphone useless and sue me just because i jailbroke????? :d
    1. dsg's Avatar
      dsg -
      Quote Originally Posted by extremzocker View Post
      wow easy! i know people get pissed off at apple and rightfully so but comparing them to someone who killed between 11 - 17 million people is too far.

      calm down...
      I was relating Appl£ to the amount of control hitler wanted, World Domination, Master Race.

      I think the way Appl£ are enforcing this type of control through how we use the internet, what you can and can't do with your own device you paid a lot of money for, the fact that they can kill any app at anytime shows the amount of control they have.

      Yes I know I don't have to buy the products but I like them, but I hate the control, thats why I jailbreak
    1. TheDirtyDiddler's Avatar
      TheDirtyDiddler -
      Quote Originally Posted by Doppler View Post
      I have 3 Androids and 1 iPhone.
      Why would you own 4 smartphones? Do you use money for toilet paper too?
    1. extremzocker's Avatar
      extremzocker -
      Quote Originally Posted by dsg View Post
      I was relating Appl£ to the amount of control hitler wanted, World Domination, Master Race.

      I think the way Appl£ are enforcing this type of control through how we use the internet, what you can and can't do with your own device you paid a lot of money for, the fact that they can kill any app at anytime shows the amount of control they have.

      Yes I know I don't have to buy the products but I like them, but I hate the control, thats why I jailbreak
      Ah, I see your point.
      The thing is that Apple makes such great products (the best) but then imposes stupid limitations - World Domination
    1. CaptainChaos's Avatar
      CaptainChaos -
      The best? They have 2 impressive products...a phone and an iPod. I will give them that. I still can't see the draw to OSX though. I knew I should have never started off in Linux because now Windows and OSX seem lacking.
    1. extremzocker's Avatar
      extremzocker -
      im not talking about the software. their designs are amazing and so is (some of) their hardware
    1. CaptainChaos's Avatar
      CaptainChaos -
      I am with you on the design of the iPhone and the iPod touch, but previous versions of the iPods were too generic.
    1. hollow0's Avatar
      hollow0 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tunerfreak View Post
      I honestly do not understand why devs still develop apps for apple products when i keep hearing these kind of stories and that you can do just about anything on android. Its like giving a homeless man money when he sits right outside a liquor store, he is just going to do whatever he wants
      Devs create apps for Apple because there's money in it. Developers keep 70 % of revenue from what they sell off of Apple. It makes sense to develop for them and get paid well. What can you make off of open source?
    1. RickDC's Avatar
      RickDC -
      Quote Originally Posted by hollow0 View Post
      Devs create apps for Apple because there's money in it. Developers keep 70 % of revenue from what they sell off of Apple. It makes sense to develop for them and get paid well. What can you make off of open source?
      Now that really is short sighted.. that's like saying how do developers make money from offering free versions of their apps, or how does MySQL make money?

      You simply have 2 lines of product - one is open source where you permit input from the community, building up loyalty and utilizing a diverse knowledge base, or you offer a feature limited product - the other is a paid commercial line which includes support and bringing only stable products.
    1. pyromcr's Avatar
      pyromcr -
      apple needs to open up the app store. they are so concerned over jailbreaking, but the only way they an end it is to open up the app store to anyone and anything. if they dont, the droid may take the top...
    1. o2much4me's Avatar
      o2much4me -
      Just FYI I received a refurb iphone this week from ATT & it had 3.1.3 already on it. I called apple & the tech seem surprised it was on it. I noticed it wouldnt backup unless I updated (which it already was I think) I sent it back to ATT & paid an extra $50 for a new unrefurbished iphone in hopes it will have 3.1.2 on it. itunes 9.0.3.15 safe to use when jailbreaking? I already hate apple & left them a message at apple.com/feedback as sugessted by the apple tech. I am scheduled to get it tomorrow & will let you know which version....
      PEACE