mikeash.com: just this guy, you know?

Posted at 2015-06-15 17:37 | RSS feed (Full text feed) | Blog Index
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Tags: apple
I Do Not Agree To Your Terms
by Mike Ash  

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:

Dear Publisher,

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:

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.

Did you enjoy this article? I'm selling a whole book full of them. It's available for iBooks and Kindle, plus a direct download in PDF and ePub format. It's also available in paper for the old-fashioned. Click here for more information.

Comments:

Mark T at 2015-06-15 18:04:11:
Well said, and thanks for making others aware of this. It's frustrating when Apple pulls stuff like this that makes it hard to like/defend them.

Andrew F at 2015-06-15 18:32:31:
Thanks, Mike, for drawing a line in the sand regarding idiotic legalese.

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".

IANAL at 2015-06-15 18:34:59:
Sure doesn't look enforceable to me.

There was no "meeting of the minds" and hence no agreement.

Akrome at 2015-06-15 19:02:44:
IANAL, you are taking for granted one specific implementation of an agreement (I assume the U.S. one?). It's likely that the same mail has been bulk sent to content creators around the world, which may have different definitions and rules commas they can use to sneak their way through.

Jay Tamboli at 2015-06-15 19:29:41:
Have you filed this as a radar? ;-)

Kevin Ballard at 2015-06-15 19:37:12:
This is pretty weird. But upon re-reading it, it seems like the Terms they're saying applies doesn't actually really legally bind you to anything. It's not like a normal EULA where you're being granted a license. They're saying that these are the terms under which they (Apple) will operate, and if you aren't comfortable with them, you can opt-out. As you already said, you think it's within Apple's rights to display advertising next to your content (since you're publishing it as an RSS feed and therefore ceding control over the display). The only other term that looks a bit odd is the "indemnifying Apple" one, But it doesn't look like they're actually saying you need to indemnify Apple immediately against any future claims. Instead they're saying that if they do get a legal claim about your content, they'll forward it to you for resolution, and that if Apple is included in the claim they'll expect you to indemnify Apple at that time. But as you already pointed out, by making this opt-out, they can't possibly legally bind you to these terms. Presumably if you violate these terms they'll simply remove your RSS from News at that time (e.g. if you receive a legal claim that includes Apple and you refuse to indemnify Apple).

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.

Walt French at 2015-06-15 19:42:28:
Curious what terms sites like Google News, Google Search, Techmeme, etc offer before showing your page or links to it.

Valeriy Van at 2015-06-15 19:47:03:
Brilliant! Will be funny if this post will appear at News app.

Anon at 2015-06-15 19:59:23:
Classic apple unfortunately. For a company which claims to care about empathy, this kind of negotiating suggests a lack of internal alignment with their own stated aims.

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.

Juan Pedro Fisanotti at 2015-06-15 20:30:57:
Something quite similar (but worse) is done by some credit cards in Argentina. They send you a letter (real life, paper one) with a credit card on it. If you don't go to the bank to reject it, then they assume you have accepted it. One year later, they start demanding you to pay maintenance, and threaten you with legal actions if you don't. They even denounce you to entities who track good and bad "payers" (think of a system like a credit score index).
I spent months fighting until they finally canceled their demands and removed me from that bad payers index.

Stepan Hruda at 2015-06-15 20:45:44:
It's almost a marketing email, maybe primarily to raise awareness about their service, rather than trying to enter any agreements with you. I don't think they need any of your permissions.

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!

Bernard at 2015-06-15 20:49:36:
Making money by displaying ads next to other people's content without compensating them is a bit cheap, even for Apple.

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?

mikeash at 2015-06-15 20:52:08:
Stepan Hruda: The first two words of their terms are "you agree." How can you say they're not trying to enter any agreement with me? I agree they don't need my permission. I said so explicitly in the article. Which makes it all the more strange that they're sending me terms and expecting me to implicitly agree with them. I'm not mad at Google because they never tried to dictate terms, they just took what I offered as it is.

Engineer at 2015-06-15 20:55:46:
You agreed to their "terms" by making an RSS Feed publicly available.... they're merely making it clear what those terms mean. They're making it explicit in case you don't actually agree.

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.

Guillermo at 2015-06-15 21:00:49:
Just add a disclaimer at the end of the page. "If this content is use somewhere else than a browser the displayer takes full responsibility of any claim, and will share 80% of the direct or indirect profit with the owner of this blog."

Alex at 2015-06-15 21:01:53:
I don't see how this can result in a binding legal contract on your part in any legal system, unless you actively send an agreement about their terms.

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.

Someone at 2015-06-15 21:24:18:
So ... with their mail, Apple just admitted that they already have infringed your copyright?

Jens at 2015-06-15 22:22:38:
Why don't you report Apple to your attorney general, for infringing your copyright and for applying methods similar to those typically used by organized crime?

Sebastian at 2015-06-15 22:36:21:
> including placing advertising [...] without compensation to you

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...

Stepan Hruda at 2015-06-15 22:59:34:
Mike Ash IANAL, but...

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"

Fellow Traveller at 2015-06-15 23:15:03:
The email from Apple does not constitute an agreement under U.S. Contract law. If that's all it took to create an agreement, you could send your "agreement" to Apple, via email to a random email associated with the company, and declare "by using my RSS feed you agree to pay a fee of USD $50,000,000 per character. If you disagree, please send an email that says "no...."


gus at 2015-06-16 00:16:30:
Dude, some Apple attorney is paid like, $175,000 a year to create these terms. You don't want to put 'em on the bread line do you? That's like, inhuman and prob. against the terms of service anyway.

Zak at 2015-06-16 00:21:22:
That is a great idea, Fellow Traveller. Mike, send an e-mail to random addresses at Apple, telling them that, by receiving the e-mail, they agree to owe you an iPhone, iPad, iWatch and iWhateverelsetheysell for every additional mail they will receive. If they do not want that, they will have to opt out from your e-mail service.

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!

Dan at 2015-06-16 00:48:07:
Agreed that Apple's approach here is both offensive and unenforcible. The initial concern, that syndication without explicit permission may result in copyright infringement, is somewhat valid. The rel="license" microformat is meant to help clarify this, but I'm guessing not enough people use it to give Apple enough interesting starter content for their News app. (The feed for this site doesn't have one.) It's difficult to say whether the presence of a publicly accessible RSS feed would be considered to be an implicit license to syndicate in a U.S. court. I can imagine an Apple lawyer getting nervous about the grey area.

Does anyone remember if Apple did something similar when launching their podcast directory in iTunes?

mikeash at 2015-06-16 01:02:44:
Sebastian: Yes, the difference between the e-mail they sent me and that page is weird. My guess is that either the 30% refers to opt-in advertising within my content, or the e-mail's "without compensation" is a CYA thing and they don't intend to invoke that.

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.

Sabes at 2015-06-16 01:10:58:
I wonder if Mr. CEO knows about these emails. These are the things that seems like they would piss him off.

Crystal Hopper at 2015-06-16 01:25:15:
Since you hold the copyright to your blog content you can license it under a Creative Commons-ish license that prevents people from commercially redistributing http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/

mirabilos at 2015-06-16 08:12:11:
I just put this into my RSS feed:

 <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.

  Impressum: https://www.mirbsd.org/imprint.htm<;/copyright>

(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.

PS: “JavaScript is required to submit comments” on your blog. That’s discrimination against Lynx users. Please reconsider. Oh, by the way, I just tried this with Konqueror (same browser engine as Safari), and the “anti-spam measures” do not display, just “Computing hashcash....”. So this is kinda… bad. I really have to boot the slow molasses that M*zilla Firef*x is, *then* add ajax.googleapis out of all things to RequestPolicy’s permit list (privacy, what’s that?), and even then… does this work now?

mirabilos at 2015-06-16 08:17:43:
@Crystal Hopper: not necessary, you can just licence the RSS feed different from the main page (our main page content uses an actual Free licence, which the Restricted Commons ones aren’t).

@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.

Mikl at 2015-06-16 08:34:38:
hey.

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.

Fred at 2015-06-16 13:31:15:
might be a stupid thought
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.

mikeash at 2015-06-16 14:59:45:
mirabilos: I prioritize combating spammers over supporting browsers like lynx. If you don't like it you are free to not comment.

Sebastian at 2015-06-16 15:00:17:
mikeash: ups, I missread https://developer.apple.com/news-publisher/ - its actually 70% for you and 30% for Apple. Similar to appstore and an acceptable deal imho.

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.

mikeash at 2015-06-16 15:14:12:
On the question of revenue sharing, a definitive answer is here:

https://developer.apple.com/library/prerelease/ios/documentation/General/Conceptual/News_Publishing_Guide/FAQ.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40015407-CH15-SW6

You get money from Apple's ads if and only if you use Apple News Format. If you just use RSS, you get nothing.

Stefan Youngs at 2015-06-16 15:24:58:
Hey! Apple got you your 15 minutes of fame, so send them a big bunch of roses.

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.

Peets at 2015-06-16 15:26:29:
Hmm, can they actually do that? Given that you produce the content, you set the copyright rules. The fact that Apple sends you an email does not constitute a contract, because that requires TWO people to sign up, so all you need to do is tweak your copyright statement to something that works for you - and you are (as far as I'm aware) not required to brief Apple on changes as long as you don't have a full contract, Apple is required to check your terms before it seeks to use your content or it is breaking the law.

I reckon Apple may wander into very dangerous territory here.

sroth11 at 2015-06-16 16:22:17:
Here's is the best cultural commentary on the Apple user agreement - South Park's parody of the horror movie Centipede:

http://southpark.cc.com/full-episodes/s15e01-humancentipad

Marc Robinson at 2015-06-16 17:04:46:
Probably couldn't hurt to end every post with a copyright notice just for the sake of clarity. A lot of sites should do that.

Chris at 2015-06-16 17:42:37:
In what developed county would an emailed set of terms like this even be enforceable?

Undisclosed at 2015-06-16 17:47:16:
Another example of Apple being an arrogant, stinking pile to any entity that isn't a giant multinational.

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.

Anonymous at 2015-06-16 17:47:17:
I am no lawyer, but I am pretty sure that if this went up to court, you are not bound by the "agreement" that Apple has set forth. What they are doing here is unilaterally assuming that you agree to their terms, despite the opposite being true.

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.

Someone at 2015-06-16 18:43:35:
So, if you never even see their mail, you could be included without your knowing in their service, sued for some of your content as well as Apple, and having to indemnify Apple ? It's so weird it's almost hard to believe.

J Osborne at 2015-06-16 18:59:45:
I'll note if this were sent via the USPS (as opposed to email) it would not only be unenforceable, but also mail fraud.

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.

Gary Pomraning at 2015-06-16 19:49:33:
You need to send them an email stating that they agree to pay you a certain amount per person reading and to respond back if they don't agree.

Omar at 2015-06-17 01:17:07:
The only comment here that seems remotely on-topic and valid is Kevin Ballard's. This isn't a legal contract and you're not bound by the terms for anything. Apple wants to include your content and they're telling you up front how they'll do that. The indemnification refers to someone suing you, for example, for libel or plagiarism, etc. Apple is just saying they don't want to be tangled up in your lawsuits, so they want to be indemnified against that type of action. They can't negotiate individual terms with every blog owner in the world, so yeah, this is a bit take-it-or-leave-it, and you make a good point when you ask what if you never received the email. But these seem like pretty simple terms. If you find them offensive, you should decline. Maybe you think Apple should stand as a co-defendant with every blogger in the universe, or that the news app is a charitable service. But neither is true. Whatever you decide to do, it's not worth getting an ulcer over it.

Michael M. Mayer at 2015-06-17 03:59:06:
As always, a well reasoned and proportional response. Well done, Mike.

mikeash at 2015-06-17 04:16:11:
Omar: I did decline. It's right here in the title. I'm not declining in the way they say I'm supposed to, but that's not my problem.

Dave at 2015-06-17 08:40:22:
The fact that some people are on here, painfully re-interpreting this kind of BS from Apple is just amazing. A real tribute to their marketing.

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.

Someone at 2015-06-17 08:45:36:
"If you find them offensive, you should decline."
@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"

Mike at 2015-06-17 13:39:51:
You have been mentioned (but not linked to) by BBC News:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-33151325

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...

mikeash at 2015-06-17 14:16:34:
Mike: Thanks for the link to the BBC. Their author actually got in touch with me to follow up and ask for a copy of the e-mail before putting that out. They're the only ones to have done so. I guess everybody else just repeats random blog posts by crazy people (i.e. me) without any checking.

Susane at 2015-06-17 14:51:35:
This is something typical for Google, but Apple? I guess that we should expect more of these in the future...

ZUrlocker at 2015-06-17 15:38:25:
You should send them an email telling them that unless they respond back, you are detailing for them the new terms. Seems fair to me.
--Zack

Mxx at 2015-06-17 19:05:35:
I don't understand what the hoopla is all about...How is this different from any other RSS feed reader?
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.

mikeash at 2015-06-17 19:34:56:
Mxx: What they're doing appears to be nothing special. How they're notifying people is terrible. I've never seen any other reader send me an e-mail telling me that I magically agreed to some terms they're dictating unless I explicitly opt out. This was not a courtesy notification. There's nothing courteous about "here are the terms that will apply." It certainly could have been a courtesy notification, but it's not.

Ted Wood at 2015-06-17 19:47:42:
I use a free RSS Reader that is supported through advertising. Those ads are displayed right next to the RSS content that I'm reading, including from your website. Did the author of this RSS Reader contact you and get your permission before "profiting" from your content? What if this RSS Reader crashes my computer.... and I'm going to sue you for that?

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.

mikeash at 2015-06-17 19:53:30:
Ted Wood: That's all nice, and irrelevant. I'm not complaining about that. I even stated explicitly that I don't think I have the right to control whether they show advertising next to my stuff. I assume you guys are not part of my regular readership and are coming here from external links. Are you even reading the post before you comment?

Matt at 2015-06-17 20:25:40:
It's inartfully worded, but this isn't an imposition of *new* terms establishing any real kind of agreement. These are ALREADY the way things would play out in these situations.

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.

VJGoh at 2015-06-17 20:28:11:
So, yeah, I've come from external links twice to read this post (well, the first time to read the post and the second time to read the comments).

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.

mikeash at 2015-06-17 20:29:53:
Matt: I believe your correct that they're not claiming anything they don't already have.

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."

VJGoh at 2015-06-17 20:33:57:
(FWIW, now that I'm here, I'm looking through your Creatures source code. I've been thinking about writing a simulation like this for years now; it's cool--though not terribly surprising--to see someone else has already done something similar.)

mikeash at 2015-06-17 20:35:29:
VJGoh: They could have easily phrased this nicely. I'm astonished at the implication that this garbage e-mail is somehow the best imaginable way to say what they want to say.

Here's my suggestion:

When we include your RSS content in News, here's what we'll do:

* 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.

VJGoh at 2015-06-17 20:49:38:
I wouldn't claim that it's the BEST email, merely that it's not as miserably bad as you make it out to be; to a certain extent, the fact that exists at all should be given bonus points. I've literally never heard of anyone mailing the owner of an RSS feed to say that they had any options at all.

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. :)

mikeash at 2015-06-17 21:05:10:
VJGoh: In my version, I'm being told that Apple is using my feed in exactly the way a feed is typically used. In their version they're declaring that I am supposed to do stuff, like certify that I have the rights to my content.

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?

TJ at 2015-06-17 21:20:20:
Come on, man... you're fair game on the internet. You are public. You made the choice to open up your site to this with your free RSS feed. I'm not defending everything Apple has ever done, but they didn't even HAVE to contact you. They're being nice and offering you a way to back out if your PUBLIC feed is something you don't want them to have.

You have to relax, man...

mikeash at 2015-06-17 21:23:35:
TJ: No, they're not being nice. Certainly they don't have to contact me, but since they did, they should have contacted me nicely instead of trying to dictate terms to me.

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.

Andy at 2015-06-17 21:30:38:
It's indeed a bad analogy. But let's forget that for a minute. Are the terms relevant anyways? I think you can easily ignore them since they can't be opt in. This is just bad execution by Apple. I don't have a problem with the opt in, but there should be no terms and they don't apply anyways.

mikeash at 2015-06-17 21:45:00:
Andy: Indeed, that is basically what I'm saying. "These terms are dumb but they can't possibly apply, so I'm going to ignore them." The terms are not the problem, because they have no force. The presentation is the problem.

Charles Martin at 2015-06-17 23:26:52:
I hate to differ with the learned minds that have contributed to this discussion (and no I am not being sarcastic -- you folks are waaaay up the evolutionary scale from typical blog commenters), but I disagree with the basic premise of Mike's post, and most of your reactions.

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."

mikeash at 2015-06-17 23:57:59:
Charles Martin: You say:

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.


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.

Tony Davenport at 2015-06-18 00:29:03:
mikeash at 2015-06-16 14:59:45:
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*.

mikeash at 2015-06-18 00:43:36:
Tony Davenport: I'm not sure you understand the difference between opt-out and opt-in. There's no comparison to be made between me not supporting lynx and Apple letting me opt out of this supposed agreement. People voluntarily come to my site. I don't approach them and say I'm going to use their stuff on my site and here are my terms.

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.

Travis McArthur at 2015-06-18 07:02:34:
This thread reads like an absurdist novel.

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

John at 2015-06-19 14:53:10:
Apple I by posting this comment now have all rights to all Apple patents. If you do not post a comment saying NO to this, I expect all future profits to be sent to me starting now.

Sean at 2015-06-19 20:26:46:
I don't know why people assume Apple is trustworthy and likable. They make great computers, and pretty good software to go along with those computers. They also charge pretty high prices for these computers and other gadgets, which may or may not be worth it. Most likely "worth it" because people are buying them like hotcakes. This does not mean that Apple has anything but their own interests at heart, and most likely, err hopefully, they've already considered how it would make you feel if you actually do end up reading all the fine print. They just bet that either you'd protest, say No!, tell them how disgusting their practices are or you'd say 'Okay' or 'whatever' and go on with your life. I guess they don't think you'd make a big fuss and advertise to people what you just learned.

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.

Horace Ho at 2015-06-23 08:57:30:
Thanks very much for sharing this.

Xiaojun Li at 2015-06-24 18:27:02:
As a big company as Apple who gets suit all the time by doing anything in any way, I don't see anything wrong here in the email. From PR perspective, probably there is a better way for Apple to do this: first a friendly invitation email, if accepted, then follow with the legal terms.

Mike at 2015-07-19 10:25:20:
There are two kinds of Apple: one that deals with consumers, create amazing products, that replaces and fix products by giving new ones when they shouldn't and the other one that deals with developers. This second one is the one which contacted you.

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.

Danial Goodwin at 2015-08-01 21:53:18:
Hey Mike, thank you very much for sharing about this so that more people can know.

ct at 2015-11-19 02:05:49:
good job!
Maybe you are a not bad company,but you must respect anyone

الوليد at 2016-10-01 19:47:43:
good Apple is run by Tim Cook, Jony Ive and these nice folks we know.


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