This article was published on January 21, 2012

Microsoft Mocks Apple’s iBooks Author policies on Twitter

Microsoft Mocks Apple’s iBooks Author policies on Twitter
Matthew Panzarino
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Matthew Panzarino

Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter. Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter.

Microsoft’s lead of Corporate Communications Frank X. Shaw has taken to Twitter to voice a few opinions about Apple. Specifically, the comments are regarding Apple’s iBooks Author and its poorly worded license agreement.

The EULA makes some interesting statements about how the works created with it can be distributed. The key passage is this one:

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.

Basically, you can only sell works that you create with the free iBooks Author tool through the iBookstore, and nowhere else. You can distribute them wherever you like, but you can’t charge for them if you do. This ensures that the tool is used to bolster the book choices in Apple’s iBookstore and also ensures that it gets its 30% cut of those works.

The debate has been hot and heavy about the wording in the document with iOS developer Dan Wineman taking an early stance against its “unprecedented audacity.”

Wineman, along with a Cnet article that calls the agreement ‘greedy and evil’, are referenced by Microsoft’s outspoken Shaw in a series of Tweets.



These statements are hilarious, bold and to the point, as we’ve come to expect from Shaw’s communications on Twitter. They’re also a tad facetious as Apple’s iBooks Author is provided for free, and none of Microsoft’s products he mentions are, as they are offered via the Office suite.

Shaw’s statements target the fact that that, since you can only distribute the iBooks through Apple’s store for profit, you’re essentially forced to give Apple a 30% cut of your earnings, as is its standard method.

It does seem silly Apple should be limiting iBooks Author’s output including or excluding the iBooks format (Apple also restricts the distribution of PDF and eBook format documents created using the tool). The income from publications sold on the iBookstore is a tiny portion of the company’s income, which makes the majority of its hardware via profit.

Shaw’s comments may be aggrandizing the issue a bit when it comes to what you do with the output of for-pay applications like the Microsoft Office Suite. After all you’re just as welcome to create a document in Word, format it using another tool and submit it to the iBookstore rather than using Apple’s free tool. But the sentiment is being echoed and the precedent that a software EULA like this sets is extremely poor, to put it lightly.

Apple never answers any issues like this in a snap response, so I wouldn’t expect any answers before next week at the earliest. But you can bet that it is aware of the reception that the EULA has received and, given its obvious plans for the iBooks Author tool when it comes to school textbooks, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this portion of the agreement amended in some way.

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