Apple Clarifies iBooks Author Licensing Situation in New Software Update

ibooks author iconFollowing Apple's release of iBooks Author last month to support creation of iBooks Textbooks, significant controversy arose regarding the software's licensing, which specified that the output from the software could only be sold via the iBookstore and not any other marketplace.

Some confusion had resulted from Apple's language, with some believing that Apple was claiming rights to all content used in the production of the iBooks Textbooks, perhaps attempting to exclude books from being published in any other form.

Apple has now addressed the issue by releasing an update to iBooks Author that includes a modified licensing agreement to clarify that Apple claims rights only to the .ibooks document format itself, with authors being free to distribute their content in non-.ibooks formats however they wish.

One key clarification comes in the "important note" included at the beginning of the license agreement. Previously, the 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.

Apple has now clarified the note to read:

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.

A second clarification comes in section 2B, which addresses distribution of works created using iBooks Author. Subsection (ii) previously read:

[I]f 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.

With the updated terms, Apple has reworded this section and added bold text addressing ownership of the original content:

[I]f the work is provided for a fee (including as part of any subscription-based product or service) and includes files in the .ibooks format generated using iBooks Author, the work may only be distributed through Apple, and such distribution will be subject to a separate written agreement with Apple (or an Apple affiliate or subsidiary); provided, however, that this restriction will not apply to the content of the work when distributed in a form that does not include files in the .ibooks format generated using iBooks Author. You retain all your rights in the content of your works, and you may distribute such content by any means when it does not include files in the .ibooks format generated by iBooks Author.

iBooks Author 1.0.1 with the updated license agreement is a free download from the Mac App Store, but weighs in at the application's full size of roughly 140 MB.

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Top Rated Comments

BaldiMac Avatar
161 months ago
And what about this ISN'T evil? Imagine if Microsoft claimed you could write anything you want in Word, but don't you dare try to sell it without converting it to PDF first. Better yet, what if Adobe tried to force you to sell your PDF only with their permission and on their own terms (and with a cut of the profits I might add)?

Step away from the cool-aid please.

Or imagine if Amazon only allowed their Kindle books to be sold through the Kindle Store.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nagromme Avatar
161 months ago
And what about this ISN'T evil? Imagine if Microsoft claimed you could write anything you want in Word, but don't you dare try to sell it without converting it to PDF first. Better yet, what if Adobe tried to force you to sell your PDF only with their permission and on their own terms (and with a cut of the profits I might add)?

Step away from the cool-aid please.
You mean, imagine if Microsoft supported the use of all kinds of word processors, and then decided to make their own too—Word—with innovative capabilities never before offered; and then gave Word away free, and the way they chose to charge for Word is by making you pay only IF you make money with it; and they made this very clear from the start, and had a very good, established system to make those sales happen; and some people loved this free system, but not everyone; and if you didn’t like the arrangement, you were free to skip Word and make your documents any other way you wanted; and even if you did choose another tool, Microsoft would still help you sell your document in their store if you wanted them to; and whether you sold your work through Microsoft or not, you could still also sell your document, made with Word, through any other means you wanted, as long as you exported a different format; or you could keep it in Word format, with all the new features, and give it away if you chose.

Shouldn’t Microsoft have the choice to release a great tool and charge for it how they like, and people can take it or leave it? Ditto for Apple, then.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Wildog27 Avatar
161 months ago
I'm sure all those commentators who kneejerked about Apple trying gain an evil monopoly over people's creations will retract them now. </sarcasm>
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
griz Avatar
161 months ago
Apple is perfectly entitled to restrict sale of books created in their format to their store. If you want to re-author your book using another tool, feel free to do so, distribute it in a different store and charge all you want for it. You can even use iBooks Author to make a PDF and sell it somewhere else.
They don't own the content. They do however own the tool they are giving you for free. They also own the format which they are granting a license to use. Don't like it? Use a different tool. You are free to do so.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
thewitt Avatar
161 months ago
I'm sure all those commentators who kneejerked about Apple trying gain an evil monopoly over people's creations will retract them now. </sarcasm>
Never happen.....of course you knew that.

Even worse, they will continue to spread the lie they made up over their misinterpretation of the earlier language...
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AustinIllini Avatar
161 months ago
There. Now everyone is happy.

I'm happy, you're happy, but I imagine some people on this board are still mad.

"insert stupid foxconn comment from some idiot on this board here"
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)