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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. battlecrushr's Avatar
      battlecrushr -
      OH dang!
    1. matthew1111's Avatar
      matthew1111 -
      Wait...so it's now illegal to jailbreak? Or it's just Apple saying so, and nobody cares?
    1. HKiller9123's Avatar
      HKiller9123 -
      hail apple!
    1. lolcats1's Avatar
      lolcats1 -
      that picture looks like rome or something. not quite feudal era
    1. dsg's Avatar
      dsg -
      Appl£ shouldn't be compared to Microsoft anymore, they should be compared with Hitler
    1. screamforme02's Avatar
      screamforme02 -
      HAHAHA what is some kind of news, we all knew apple has everybody by the "balls". But their is Cydia so all hail free speech and software.
    1. k.nitsua's Avatar
      k.nitsua -
      Quote Originally Posted by screamforme02 View Post
      But their is Cydia so all hail free speech and software.
      Ah, the "pirate bay" approach. Yeah, that works, lol =P
    1. santiagodraco's Avatar
      santiagodraco -
      I never understood why there were so many apple fanboy's. The ONLY reason I bought an iPhone is because there simply was no competitive alternative. That's changing.

      Look at the iPad. I think Apple will sell quite a few of the devices, but right around the corner are the slate devices and for once I really think Apple is going to have a run for their money, simply because of the almost complete lack of any improvements to the platform over the iPhone itself. Makes me feel like Apple shot their load and can't figure out what the next step is other than "upsizing" your order (want some fries with that?

      In any case the market is going to get crowded soon with phones and tablets that are consumer price and feature friendly and I think we'll see lots of non apple tablets in peoples hands.

      If there's anything Apple has done that we should thank them for it's for waking up the rest of the market.

      Quote Originally Posted by k.nitsua View Post
      Ah, the "pirate bay" approach. Yeah, that works, lol =P
      And how exactly is Cydia in any way related with Pirate Bay or pirating (as you would imply?)
    1. awesomeSlayer's Avatar
      awesomeSlayer -
      That is retarded! Wouldn't that violate our rights?

      Quote Originally Posted by lolcats1 View Post
      that picture looks like rome or something. not quite feudal era
      But, it still gives the idea of the events that is going on now.
    1. moon#pie's Avatar
      moon#pie -
      Apple is setting themselves up for failure and I can't wait. I'll still buy their mbp when it comes out though.
    1. equazian's Avatar
      equazian -
      LOL this picture is of King David and Jonathan's son
    1. GellBrake'rrrr's Avatar
      GellBrake'rrrr -
      Just to make it clear that it Never stated that jailbreaking is illegal... Section 3.2 Only states that apple bans it.
    1. PAKIS-RULEZ's Avatar
      PAKIS-RULEZ -
      the next thing we will see apple looking for jailbroken iphone and putting us in jail lol grow up we should all make our own software (open source) that lets us make iphone apps f apple and its softwares btw microsoft is way more grown up in this thing... apple think they can control the world.... keep dreaming losers "apple"
    1. ro0oney's Avatar
      ro0oney -
      "Apple Like a "Jealous Feudal Lord"
      agree
    1. steve-z17's Avatar
      steve-z17 -
      Quote Originally Posted by PAKIS-RULEZ View Post
      the next thing we will see apple looking for jailbroken iphone and putting us in jail lol grow up we should all make our own software (open source) that lets us make iphone apps f apple and its softwares btw microsoft is way more grown up in this thing... apple think they can control the world.... keep dreaming losers "apple"
      You're helping them get there by using their product(s)...
    1. treble26's Avatar
      treble26 -
      apple is more like an abusive husband. lol if you do something wrong or if they thing your doing something behind their backs they're pretty much gonna screw you in the end or whenever they feel like it. i like apples products e.g. iphone, ipod touch and macbooks, but i dont like apple them selves. i really hope that google or microsoft or even some other company creates something that apple can no longer compete with and ends up being defeated then it appears on the front page of the morning news paper and the whole world cheers for joy apple sucks and i hope the end up failing in the end.
    1. Doppler's Avatar
      Doppler -
      Quote Originally Posted by treble26 View Post
      apple is more like an abusive husband. lol if you do something wrong or if they thing your doing something behind their backs they're pretty much gonna screw you in the end or whenever they feel like it. i like apples products e.g. iphone, ipod touch and macbooks, but i dont like apple them selves. i really hope that google or microsoft or even some other company creates something that apple can no longer compete with and ends up being defeated then it appears on the front page of the morning news paper and the whole world cheers for joy apple sucks and i hope the end up failing in the end.
      I guess you have never really read Google's ToS for everything that they give you for "free". Honestly Google is far worse than Apple. Since people seldom bother to read the ToS and just agree with it only have themselves to blame when things hits the fan.

      Before you call me a Apple fan boy. I have 3 Androids and 1 iPhone. I also have a Mac mini, waiting for the new MBP, and 4 Linux boxes. Windows I will never touch(since Windows 98), and I do not use any of Google's "free" services. I don't even have gmail set up on my Androids.
    1. Tunerfreak's Avatar
      Tunerfreak -
      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
    1. Luppin's Avatar
      Luppin -
      Quote Originally Posted by doppler View Post
      i have 3 androids and 1 iphone.
      wat
    1. SquareWheel's Avatar
      SquareWheel -
      It takes money to be an Apple fanboy, I guess..