An open letter to authors and publishers worldwide.

To Whom it may concern,

Last week Apple announced the launch of its iBooks 2 app which includes iBook Author, software designed to help writers lay out their Ebooks. [1][2]

There are many features in iBook Author which are quite useful for authors, particularly writers of textbooks. However, any perceived benefit from easy to use lay-out software is offset by one of the most far-reaching EULAs (End-User Licence Agreement) ever devised.

Whilst you are free to do what you like with a book you compile and plan to distribute for free, if you plan to charge for it in any way, Apple claims control over your work. From the EULA:

(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 will not be responsible for any costs, expenses, damages, losses (including without limitation lost business opportunities or lost profits) or other liabilities you may incur as a result of your use of this Apple Software, including without limitation the fact that your Work may not be selected for distribution by Apple.[3]

Essentially, if you use iBook Publisher to lay-out your book, Apple may choose not to distribute it for any reason. That said, you can still take the words, lay out the work again and submit that to other publishers, but not the version compiled on Apple.[4] This may not sound that bad, but it is unprecedented in any EULA that the software company claims control over any material compiled using its software.[5]

We encourage authors and publishers to boycott iBook Author to protect your hard work from overbearing restrictions that Apple wishes to impose. Even if the terms in this EULA seem to be an acceptable trade-off, wide acceptance could lead to other companies adopting similar or more controlling EULA restrictions in the future. A line needs to be drawn in the sand, and authors and published need to say enough. There are many other apps, extensions and programs that are designed to lay-out Ebooks, such as Writer2ePub[6], which works with open source office suites, openoffice[7] and libreoffice[8] so there is no pressing need to go down Apple’s garden path.

Regards,

Simon Frew
Deputy President
Pirate Party Australia

[1] http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/apple-we-want-to-reinvent-the-textbook/67436?tag=nl.e539
[2] http://www.informationweek.com/byte/news/personal-tech/digital-content/232500163
[3] http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/apples-mind-bogglingly-greedy-and-evil-license-agreement/4360?tag=nl.e539
[4] http://betanews.com/2012/01/22/apples-ibooks-author-eula-is-more-and-less-evil-than-you-think/
[5] http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/apples-mind-bogglingly-greedy-and-evil-license-agreement/4360?tag=nl.e539
[6] http://writer2epub.en.softonic.com/
[7] http://www.openoffice.org/
[8] http://www.libreofficeaustralia.org/

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