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Apple introduced their News app at WWDC, and the other day they sent me an e-mail saying they want to include this blog in News.
The e-mail begins:
We are excited to introduce News, an all-new app for iPhone and iPad coming with iOS 9. News delivers stories from the best sources, beautifully designed, and selected just for you.
We believe your RSS feeds feature great content, and we think Apple customers will agree. We are offering our many millions of users the opportunity to discover NSBlog by including your RSS feeds in News:
So far, so good. I assume they're sending this out to about a million people so it's probably no special honor to be chosen, but it's still nice of them to get in touch.
But, of course, the lawyers have to get involved. The e-mail continues:
When your RSS content is included in News, here are the terms that will apply:
- You agree to let us use, display, store, and reproduce the content in your RSS feeds including placing advertising next to or near your content without compensation to you. Don’t worry, we will not put advertising inside your content without your permission.
- You confirm that you have all necessary rights to publish your RSS content, and allow Apple to use it for News as we set forth here. You will be responsible for any payments that might be due to any contributors or other third parties for the creation and use of your RSS content.
- If we receive a legal claim about your RSS content, we will tell you so that you can resolve the issue, including indemnifying Apple if Apple is included in the claim.
- You can remove your RSS feed whenever you want by opting out or changing your settings in News Publisher.
I don't know about that. It's probably within Apple's rights to put advertising next to my content, but I don't really want them to. I definitely don't want to indemnify Apple. Oh well, I guess I'll just ignore this e-mail.
But wait, there's more!
If you do not want Apple to include your RSS feeds in News, reply NO to this email and we will remove your RSS feeds. [emphasis Apple's]
Let me get this straight, Apple: you send me an e-mail outlining the terms under which you will redistribute my content, and you will just assume that I agree to your terms unless I opt out?
This makes typical clickwrap EULA nonsense look downright reasonable by comparison. You're going to consider me bound to terms you just declared to me in an e-mail as long as I don't respond? That's completely crazy. You don't even know if I received the e-mail!
I'm conflicted about this. On one hand, the whole reason I have an RSS feed for this blog is to make it easy to access it in a variety of ways. The RSS feed exists precisely so it can be used by programs like this, which take the content and display it to the user. I don't like the idea of showing ads next to my content in this situation, but I'm pretty sure I have no right to control that. If I didn't want people taking my blog and putting it in an app and showing it to people that way, I wouldn't have a feed.
On the other hand, Apple isn't just taking my feed and displaying it. They're shoving terms and conditions at me, and unilaterally assuming that I agree to them unless I take explicit steps to respond and say that I don't.
What to do about it? I could just reply NO like it says and be done with it. It would be a lot faster than writing this rambling blog post. But I don't actually want to withdraw from Apple News. I bet there's at least one of you who wants to read this blog in that app, and I wouldn't want to get in your way.
Instead, I wrote this post in order to accomplish two things.
First, I want everybody to know about the ridiculous stunt Apple is trying to pull here. I'd have been perfectly happy if they had just sent me an e-mail saying they were going to include my feed, and if I didn't like it I could e-mail to opt out. I'd even be happy if they didn't even give the option to opt out! After all, having an RSS feed in the first place is an implict opt-in to that sort of thing. But trying to dictate terms on top of that while telling me that I automatically agree to them unless I opt out is unacceptable, even if the terms themselves are relatively benign. They should stop doing this, and telling people about what they're doing is the only way I know that might help to make that happen.
Second, I want to declare directly to Apple: I do not agree to your terms. You are, of course, welcome to use my content in any way already permitted by law. I believe that should suffice for your purposes, but if it doesn't, well, too bad. I have no idea if you'll ever see this declaration, but that's just like yours, so I think it's fair.
That's it. If you just come here for the technical content then I apologize for the rant. I promise to have a nice article for you all about Swift 2's nifty new features on Friday.
Retroactive opt-ins? Sorry. I'm willing to accept some degree of legal arrogance from large companies, but this crosses the line to "taking developers (and members of the community) for granted".
There was no "meeting of the minds" and hence no agreement.
So, given all that, it's still a weird email. And I'm glad you posted this. They need to be called out when they doing weird things like this. But reading past the bad delivery, if I've interpreted this correctly they're not actually doing anything wrong, they just did a really bad job of explaining it. If I were you I'd leave it with this blog post and not worry about the terms; you're unlikely to ever get a legal claim against you, and if you do, well, you can decide at that time if it makes sense to indemnify Apple or if you'd rather have your RSS pulled.
A few years ago they reached out to me to hire my team, I was thrilled. Then their lawyers got involved. For consulting services they wanted me to sign a 10 page contract which is the same one they give factories—much of it was inappropriate to our engagement.
They wanted me to buy liability insurance worth 30% of their surprisingly low budget while also fully indemnifying Apple. Could I really be trusted to represent their interests if I threw all willingness to steward my own away because it's Apple on the phone? So I spent $3k on a lawyer who made minor contract revisions (to mutually protect Apple and me) He and I followed up multiple times. Years later, Apple has yet to respond.
I spent months fighting until they finally canceled their demands and removed me from that bad payers index.
Your RSS feed is out there and anyone can pull articles from it. Apple built a crawler to go through publicly available feeds and allow users to subscribe to feeds, displaying the content in their app. You're not mad at Google because your blog shows up in their search engine results. With advertisements on the side. And they didn't even send you an email to ask if it's okay!
I mean why would they want to show people ads next to their news in the first place? I thought Apple was all about elegant design and the great user experience, how does that go with ads?
Can you pay to get rid of the ads? Also without compensation for the creator of the content?
Would you, at least, find out how many people read your feed, and when?
They aren't creating an agreement, an agreement already exists between you and the rest of the world where you are basically publishing an RSS Feed for people to read and aggregate. They're telling you what they're doing under that agreement.
So I guess that Apple either believes that it is too big to fail in court or their legal department is on their holidays and someone else gave their OK to this.
While https://developer.apple.com/news-publisher/ says
"Monetization is made simple with iAd, Apple’s advertising platform. Earn 100% of the revenue from ads you sell, and 70% when iAd sells ads for you."
That sounds like they also try to remove the 30% of ad revenue you would get othereise when using News Publisher to publish hour RSS-feed yourself...
in case you didn't immediately stop reading: I can totally see your point. To me, it still feels as a courtesy recapping the current state of things rather than a new agreement – they can already make your RSS content available, you are already responsible for having rights to the content you host.
Search engines are going to index your content unless you specifically opt out. To continue the Google analogy: it's like Google Maps sending you an email saying "you agree to have a picture of your house taken for Street View, if you want it blurred, reply NO"
Then you send each address that did not opt out a new e-mail every day. And soon, you can open up your own Apple Store. Yay!
Does anyone remember if Apple did something similar when launching their podcast directory in iTunes?
Stepan Hruda: I wager the intent was a courtesy notification, but unfortunately they wrote it as a crazy EULA-like magic contract. I don't think they are actually claiming anything they don't already get under the law, but the way they word it is awful.
gus: If they're only making $175,000/year in Silicon Valley then they're probably already in the bread line.
<copyright>All content Copyright © by The MirOS Project or its respective
writers. Permission to reproduce news and wlog entries and other RSS feed
content in unmodified form without notice is granted provided they are not
used to endorse or promote any products or opinions (other than what was
expressed by the author) and without taking them out of context. Written
permission from the copyright owner must be obtained for everything else.
(The last one is required by German law, it might not apply to you.) With this, they’d have a hard time doing *any* of the things, *including* putting advertisements next to my content.
@Stepan Hruda: indexing and linking the content (and possibly reproducing small snippets thereof) is something totally different from not just reproducing the whole content next to advertising, but also requiring indemnification for that. The usual OSS licences require the person who *takes* the work to indemnify the *author*, they do a whole 180° on that. Loathable.
I understand your reaction. I am no Facebook Twitter or Google user. I tried once to get a video off YouTube, video where it appeared I was shot without any notice or agreement.
It is impossible.
Internet companies give you no rights other than to agree. I didn't even try to put off stuff where I make some disagreed appearance on Facebook.
Truth is you're no user of these services therefore you have no rights.
Shame Apple is no different.
but given the fact that one of your future posts includes infringing content, would the (asssumed) massive increase of readers via News not lead to a much higher fine in case of conviction? At least cases for copyright infringment are afair often based on the number consumers.
I not understand why they not just linked or included this official terms. This are written by lawyers and contain way more details including how usage-statistics are provided, how to optimize the content/feed, etc.
It looks for me as someone just copy+paste the terms you have to accept when adding your RSS-feed yourself. But that someone also changed the ad-revenue split from 30% for Apple and 70% for you to 0% for you. Now I ask myself who gets the 70% then? I have doubts its Apple since it makes no sense to handle there A-publishers like that and everybody else different. It looks to me like someone else is trying to cash in here.
You get money from Apple's ads if and only if you use Apple News Format. If you just use RSS, you get nothing.
You would be a fool to opt- out of News. It will generate more readers than you could ever get in 5 lifetimes. Screw their legalese, it's just lawyer mambo jumbo all public companies have to load on us in the nanny state.
I reckon Apple may wander into very dangerous territory here.
If there were an iTunes App Store alternative that would allow one to make a living, I suspect just about every small developer and publisher out there would jump ship in a heartbeat.
The email says: "When your RSS content is included in News, here are the terms that will apply". You never agreed to any terms!
While I am sure that they have the right to create a RSS reader, that shows ads, and you, by creating an RSS feed, is implicitly granting rights to whomever reproducing it in their app to do so, but automatically assuming that you have agreed to their terms is insane. Pretend that these are the terms that they sent you:
You agree that you will:
1. Pay Apple $1 mil.
2. Never sue Apple for anything.
3. Give up all rights to the content.
4. Become Apple's slave.
Nobody would ever agree, and they shouldn't assume that anybody ever would! A contract is a bilateral, not unilateral, agreement.
All this is to say that if Apple sued you for infringing upon this "agreement", there is no way that they can say that you have agreed to the "agreement".
Also, you should include a copyright notice somewhere, even though you reserve all rights by default. I couldn't hurt.
Er, I'll also note that I'm not a lawyer, and what little "training" I had was a pair of high school law classes over 30 years ago. Laws change. High school law classes don't teach the whole of the law (understatement!). Memory fades. Talk to a real lawyer.
Would those same people defend this kind of e-mail from Microsoft, I wonder?
After 20 years as an Apple user, I finally switched away and haven't looked back. It ain't what it was. The company *or* the product.
@Omar : You can't decline something you never knew you agreed to by the simple fact that you never read or received their mail. You can't agree to having to refund Apple for a lawsuit entanglement due to them publishing your news without even you knowing about it ( because you never got the email ).
That's not how contracts work, nowhere in the world.
Either this is a huge misunderstanding, or Apple's lawyers did an overdose of LSD before redacting the terms of the "contract"
I agree with all your points. I use apple hardware, but I try to stay away from all their services (iCloud etc) partly due to this sort of thing.
I'm not sure it's going to be so easy to do this in the future though...
How is this different from RSS readers displaying ads in free versions of their app?
Sites wouldn't expect to get revenue from that... Just like sites wouldn't expect to dictate how a feed is visually presented inside of a reader. If you want to control that, don't have a feed.
How is this different from RSS readers including pre-selected list of feeds? If I remember correctly every Android reader I tried had some "sample" feeds. Bazqux(my reader of choice on desktop) also has sample feeds to pick from. I imagine whatever readers there are on ios/osx are in the same state.
Apple is simply giving courtesy to feeds by letting them know they'll be included in Apple's pre-populated list and opt-out with a single reply.
Being that this is Apple and people often try to cash-in on them, I imagine their lawyers crafted those terms. It doesn't seem anything nefarious.
You expressly chose to publish your content via RSS. What consumers, including Apple, do with that content is entirely their choice. You made your content available for free, in a public format.
Apple is making it clear that if your feed gains newfound popularity through their platform, that you're on your own when it comes to (1) shakedown ransom demands from third parties and (2) that they will neither defend you in court nor allow you to pass liability onto Apple for material you post.
Your complaint doesn't make any sense, because it seems a lot like you're accosting Apple for giving you MORE information and having a GREATER respect for what your wishes are, vis-a-vis your content. Like you've mentioned in other replies, nobody else even asked you.
I suppose Apple's phrasing comes mainly from the assumption that as a public RSS feed, you do IMPLICITLY agree to such terms, and by opting out when you send them an email, you EXPLICITLY don't agree. I'm not sure how else they should have phrased it; it's not actually a question. Any other way that I can think of in my head comes across just as aggressively.
On the other hand, "inartful" is a pretty mild way of putting it. A demand for rights that one already possesses can be pretty bad. Imagine if some crazy person banged on your door and said, "I'm going to walk down your sidewalk and there's nothing you can do about it!" If you complained about this naturally upsetting incident, it would be silly to respond with, "well, he does have that right."
Here's my suggestion:
* We'll display the content in your RSS feeds. We might place advertising next to or near your content. We won't put any advertising inside your content without your permission.
* If we receive a legal claim about your RSS content, we will tell you so you can resolve it.
* You can remove your RSS feed whenever you want by opting out.
Now it's all about what they'll do, not what they expect me to do.
Your version is better, to be sure (though there's the question of whether it would pass muster with an army of lawyers on either end; who knows with those people) but even in your version, you're being TOLD that some things are happening to you. If the first email was a pig, your version just puts a nicer dress on it. :)
To make a bad analogy, imagine that your neighbor is going to be doing a bunch of annoying and loud construction. A courtesy notice would be, "Hey, we're going to be doing a bunch of annoying and loud construction, I hope you don't mind too much, please feel free to talk to me if there's anything I can do to help." Apple's e-mail is more like, "We're going to be doing a bunch of annoying and loud construction. Here are the terms that apply: * you will not complain to the city * you will not contact the police * you confirm that your property lines are correct. If you disagree, tell us, otherwise we'll assume that these terms are acceptable to you." Hey, they're just restating their rights, not trying to claim anything new, so that notice is totally cool, right?
You have to relax, man...
And I love the "you have to relax" and all the other message implying I'm getting too worked up about this. I think it's a crappy e-mail but I'm not exactly getting worked up about it. I just thought people should know what's going on. And apparently people are interested. If you think I shouldn't even care enough to tell people what's going on, I wonder why you think you should be posting comments. Maybe you're the ones who should relax.
Anyway, I'm getting a bit tired of repeating myself over and over again, so any further comments which start off from the angle that Apple didn't have to contact me and has the right to use my feed, missing the point that it is the e-mail itself that I didn't like, will be deleted without comment.
The "legalese" (which is actually just plain English) is identical to the actual legalese you agreed to when you submitted your site to one of the RSS feed generators, like Atom. Apple is simply re-stating -- in refreshingly clear terms -- the same conditions any site using any RSS feed "binds" you to.
So what Apple is saying is exactly what Mike said he'd have been happy to see: "we've included your blog in the list of material we may use in News, and if you don't want us to use your [publicly available] feed, you can email us to opt out."
Mike himself finally admits to this mid-way down the comments, in agreement with the wise VJGoh who called him out on it, but didn't amend his post -- presumably because it is now getting mad hits -- to change "ridiculous stunt" to "mildly inartful wording." He still hasn't admitted that Apple **does not** require him to contact them to certify that all of his content is original/owned by him, they simply articulate what all RSS feed engines require.
I have no doubt Mike is a really nice/great guy, even from this one posting of his that I've read. But he's also wrong, or at least throwing a hissy fit when such over-reaction is not called for. I agree with his (later) comment that his suggested really quite tiny change could have made the letter marginally better, but as VJGoh says, Mike is actually "accosting Apple for giving you MORE information and having a GREATER respect for what your wishes are, vis-a-vis your content."
What are you talking about?
What RSS generator do you think I submitted my site to, exactly? What even is an "RSS generator"? Atom is a format.
RSS is really simple (that's actually what the first two letters stand for). You generate a feed, which involves creating some XML. I did this with a small Python program. Then you serve that feed over HTTP. I did this with apache. And that's it. There's no submission, no agreements, nothing like that.
I don't think you understand anything about how this stuff actually works, which makes me wonder why you thought it was worth commenting on it.
mirabilos: I prioritize combating spammers over supporting browsers like lynx. If you don't like it you are free to not comment.
Rather like Apple prioritising the distribution of material the author HAS ALREADY agreed to distribute (RSS stands for Really Simple SYNDICATION), over asking every RSS producer's permission. If any author doesn't like it, then they are free to opt-out. Simple.
So that's the first bone of contention dealt with - now the second:
"If we receive a legal claim about your RSS content, we will tell you so that you can resolve the issue, including indemnifying Apple if Apple is included in the claim."
In the first instance, if you as a content creator write something defamatory and demonstrably untrue (as opposed to opinion), why should anyone else have to be blamed too?! And that goes for whether it's your web host, Apple, the guy who does your dry-cleaning - in short, anyone. Furthermore, you might well want to indemnify Apple in a claim - you, as a smalltime content producer might get sued for a libellous story for $10,000 - with Apple bundled into the suit too, suddenly it's $10 million. But in any event - it doesn't say what you think it does. Let's say you have a scoop on a famous Hollywood celeb. You've checked your sources, and have reasonable grounds to feel the story is accurate, and in the public interest to tell the world about. This story is very unflattering to the celeb in question. Celeb's lawyers contact Apple. What the line essentially means is that Apple will contact you about it, and advise you how to deal with the situation, including indemnifying Apple, else they'll pull it from News. It's not an agreement to indemnify Apple *in advance*.
As for indemnity, I don't see how liability would fall on Apple in the first place, so why would they even write that? It's just nonsensical. And indemnity doesn't mean Apple is excluded from a law suit. As a third party, I can't somehow stop somebody from suing Apple. Indemnification means that I would pay Apple's costs if they did get sued. And no way would I ever do that.
Anyways - thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention Mike. For what it's worth I'm thankful that you shared this as this sort of behavior should be shown in the light of day. It's pretty crappy to do a reverse click through.
As you've noted indemnification also has a very specific legal meaning and is not implied with a normal feed - so that makes this extra crappy.
Anyways - as always thanks for being awesome and look forward to next post with Swift :D
I do appreciate that you posted this for everybody else to see. I'll keep it in mind, for next time someone tells me how wonderful Apple is.
The good Apple is run by Tim Cook, Jony Ive and these nice folks we know.
The bad now is run by satan himself. The bad Apple hates developers, write below standard crappy documentations, that are shitty, vague, incomplete and misleading, completely create with disdain and despise. The bad Apple it the one that gives book authors and musicians the write to buy Apple hardware with discount but don't do that to developers.
The bad Apple don't give a shit to Apple own beliefs or aims.
Tim Cook and others are also guilty of that Apple existing, because they also don't care or don't want to know.
Maybe you are a not bad company,but you must respect anyone
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