The Slightly Less Hellish EULA

February 9, 2012

So a few weeks ago Apple released the iBooks Author tool to much fanfare, and then much backlash over their onerous license agreement, which basically stated that if you created a work with the tool, you could distribute it anywhere only if it was free. If you wanted to sell your work, you could only sell it in the iBookstore.

And there was much gnashing of teeth on Teh Interwebs . Based on that EULA, I for one abandoned all plans to go anywhere near iBooks Author for my current photo book project, and instead began investigating more content-producer-friendly outfits like Blurb.

The other day I noticed an update to iBooks Author, the only "fix" being a change to the license agreement. Below is the new wording. My first attempt to read the new EULA resulted in the app crashing, which I took as a bad sign, but Lo!:

B. Distribution of Works Generated Using the iBooks Author Software. As a condition of this License and provided you are in compliance with its terms, works generated using iBooks Author may be distributed as follows:
(i) if the work is provided for free (at no charge), you may distribute it by any means;

(ii) if 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.

I believe this means the EULA is now much less restrictive on its distribution, and I'm now allowed to export the content as a PDF and sell it anywhere. My (perhaps incorrect) understanding is the .ibooks format is basically a fancy version of ePUB with some extra formatting options (and perhaps DRM). This leads me to hope that it won't be long before someone (maybe even Apple itself) creates something to convert from iBooks to straight ePUB.

I'm a big believer in open standards.

So at first glance it appears Apple listened to the critics and responded relatively quickly. I may even revisit using iBooks Author for certain projects. Thoughts?

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