Keen legal minds have been going over Apple’s end user licence agreement for the iBooks Author app and discovered that any writer dumb enough to use it is effectively selling their soul and content to Jobs’ Mob.
The agreement restricts paid distribution of “works” created with the software to the iBookstore only. In other words if you use the software you can only sell your book on iTunes.
The restriction is not that major a problem as only Apple’s iBooks apps can even read the files generated by iBooks Author, but what is alarming writers is that Apple is forcing them to sell content through the iBookstore.
This is illegal and would not survive an inquiry from any anti-trust investigator. It is like saying “I lay out my books using Adobe CS, therefore I have to sell anything you lay out using the software in Adobe’s store.”
The EULA says that you can distribute the books for free, but if you charge cash, then Apple wants its pound of flesh. In this case 30 per cent.
Intellectual property lawyer Dan Booth told Ars Technica that the use of Apple’s software creates an exclusive distributorship.
It would mean that anyone who wants to sell their books to anyone other than Apple fanboys would be better off to stick to their ordinary tools for ebook generation and leave Jobs’ Mob software alone.
Booth points out that Apple’s tying of distribution to the iBookstore, which requires its own contract with its own terms, might run foul of antitrust or unfair competition statutes.
Apple’s EULA actually also gives it the power to chose which books can go on sale. This would apparently allow Apple to lock up with contract rights what it could never get through copyright—total control over all sales.