Apple Clarifies iBooks Author EULA, Excludes Claim on Content

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Apple changed the wording on the iBooks Author end user license agreement (EULA), clarifying the company’s restrictions on what can be done with content created with the software. When first announced, the EULA included language that could be interpreted as Apple trying to restrict what could be done with content created with the software, but the clarification specifies that Apple is restricting what can be done with the company’s proprietary .ibooks files.

iBooks Author, Apple, and Money

iBooks Author is Apple’s new ebook authoring software that was announced on January 19th. Free software, iBooks Author allows people to create books (with an initial focus on textbooks) for Apple’s new iBooks 2, which was announced at the same time.

iBooks 2 is based on the ePub 3 format, but Apple used the classic embrace-and-extend tactic to add proprietary features that can be used to make textbooks far more interactive on tablets than previous book formats. The proprietary nature of those changes allowed Apple to limit those new features to the company’s own iPad media tablet, which could help the company sell more of the devices.

It was the EULA that raised people’s ire, however, as a line marked as an “important note” read:

If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software (a ‘Work’), you may only sell or distribute such Work through Apple (e.g., through the iBookstore) and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple.

Many were critical of this restriction and there was much discussion and argument about whether Apple was trying to restrict output from the author or going so far as to restrict the content itself. If the latter, people who used iBooks Author to create a book could be in violation of the EULA if they then took that content to another authoring tool for output to other devices or media formats.

Apple was heavily criticized for its obsessive attempt at control, and many people feared the company was getting too big for its proverbial britches.

Whether or not it was simply poor wording or the criticisms made Apple reverse course, the reality is that the change in version 1.0.1 of the EULA released on Thursday resolves any confusion over the restrictions. The new wording for the “important note” is (with the important bit bolded for your convenience):

If you want to charge a fee for a work that includes files in the .ibooks format generated using iBooks Author, you may only sell or distribute such work through Apple, and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple. This restriction does not apply to the content of such works when distributed in a form that does not include files in the .ibooks format.

As noted above, this seems to remove any confusion and makes it clear that Apple is only concerned about .ibooks files. Be that as it may, this is one bit of controversy that be put aside, which should allow folks more time to get upset about Apple’s embrace-and-extend tactics on ePub 3.

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4 Comments

eolake

Unfortunately it seems that at the moment the only other formats IA will export are pure text and PDF. Hardly a wealth of options when considering the wealth of multimedia content you can stuff in such a book in iBooks format.

iJack

“If you want to charge a fee for a work that includes files in the .ibooks format generated using iBooks Author, you may only sell or distribute such work through Apple…”

I just downloaded Author, and it looks good enough to use, but I don’t know enough about “files in the .ibooks format” to know if I would be wasting my time or not.  Does this mean if I use an included template, I have to make a deal with Apple to relieve me of my earnings?  I don’t want to have to learn about this; I just want to use it.

Whatever happened to “it just works?”

Dorje Sylas

Does this mean if I use an included template, I have to make a deal with Apple to relieve me of my earnings?? I don?t want to have to learn about this; I just want to use it.

Dude, you need to read your EULAs and take the time to understand them. How much did you have to learn about the publishing process when you went wrote your first book? The important part was even bolded above. Here let me call out the format you can’t sell outside the iBooks store.

“This restriction does not apply to the content of such works when distributed in a form that does not include files in the .ibooks format.”

That means the (dot) iBook file/container that iBooks-Author spits out. Oddly Apple doesn’t even seem to be saying anything about the PDF or Text file. It’s very clearly directed at the .iBook file which is clogged with a bunch of proprietary Apple CSS code to make those fancy custom widgets “just work” (save the HTML5 which is on your head be the coding). Now if someone wanted to get really pushy Apple could claim rights to the trade dress created by the Templates and try to prevent sales of the PDF and Text exports, but again the emphasis in this revision is clearly aimed at the iBook format only so that seems really unlikely.

Also “relieving” you of 30% of the sale is, for an individual TextBook author a fairly good deal. If you were to go through a normal hard copy publisher you’d be lucky to get any residual and more likely to get only a flat fee, forget a 70% residual. If you want all 100% of the revenue from you work use Sigil and make an ePub 3 and sell it through your own site (which transaction service are you going to use, how much of a cut will they take, band width cost, host costs, watermark/DRM costs). Good luck having things like galleries, 3D objects, and multi-point info-pictures “just work.” - TANSTAAFL

gnasher729

About those 30%: On the weekend, I managed to buy an ?25 iTunes gift card for ?20 (Boots selling them right now). If I use this ?25 gift card to buy a ?25 book, then the author gets 70% = ?17.50. Since Boots only received ?20, minus the cost of handling my bank card, minus a bit of money to run their store, I think it is quite clear that Apple received less than ?20 of that money.

Now I use gift cards because they are safer (nobody has access to my credit card number) and cheaper (see above), but millions of kids use them because that way the parents don’t have to allow them access to a debit or credit card. So that’s a huge group of people who can buy from Apple’s store but wouldn’t be able to buy from someone’s own website.

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