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January 20, 2012

Apple releases new eBooks authoring tools, EULA contains wicked bad codicils

Any eBooks you create with the new iBooks-Author tools may only ever be sold on Apple's store. Not on the Kindle store, not on the Nook store, and no you cannot sell them on your own site. Is this legal? venomous porridge - The Unprecedented Audacity of the iBooks Author EULA
So, to paraphrase: By using this software, you agree that anything you make with it is in part ours. But if it can say that and have legal force, can’t it say anything? Isn’t this the equivalent of a car dealer trying to bind you to additional terms by sticking a contract in the glove compartment? By driving this car, you agree to get all your oil changes from Honda of Cupertino? Apple, in this EULA, is claiming a right not just to its software, but to its software’s output. It’s akin to Microsoft trying to restrict what people can do with Word documents, or Adobe declaring that if you use Photoshop to export a JPEG, you can’t freely sell it to Getty. As far as I know, in the consumer software industry, this practice is unprecedented. I’m sure it’s commonplace with enterprise software, but the difference is that those contracts are negotiated by corporate legal departments and signed the old-fashioned way, with pen and ink and penalties and termination clauses. A by-using-you-agree-to license that oh by the way asserts rights over a file format? Unheard of, in my experience. When I make something myself, no matter what software I use to make it, then — assuming it doesn’t infringe any copyrights — it’s my right to distribute it however I want, in whatever format I choose, for free or not. I don’t lose the right to publish my novel if Microsoft determines that I wrote it using a pirated copy of Word. Would I lose that right if I tried to sell my iBook outside of the iBookstore and Apple got wind of it? I don’t know; we’re in uncharted waters here. Or how about this: for a moment I’ll stipulate that Apple’s EULA is valid and I’ve agreed to it implicitly by using the software. Now suppose I create an iBook and give it to someone else who has never downloaded iBooks Author and is not party to the EULA, and that person sells it on their own website. What happens now?

January 13, 2012

New York Times public editor asks, "should reporters check facts?"

He wants to know--sincerely--if the Times should keep just reporting what candidates say, or if they should check and see if what they are saying is true. Pretty much everyone is appalled by this bald-faced admission that they have given up on journalism and apparently only print press releases. And Brisbane, the editor, has reacted to the goggling disbelief by insisting everyone is reading his piece wrong. He's gotten quite huffy about it. Read Jay Rosen for more on this and a huge roundup of reactions. And should Vanity Fair be a "spelling vigilante?". Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante? | The Public Editor - NYTimes.com
I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge “facts” that are asserted by newsmakers they write about. One example mentioned recently by a reader: As cited in an Adam Liptak article on the Supreme Court, a court spokeswoman said Clarence Thomas had “misunderstood” a financial disclosure form when he failed to report his wife’s earnings from the Heritage Foundation. The reader thought it not likely that Mr. Thomas “misunderstood,” and instead that he simply chose not to report the information. Another example: on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney often says President Obama has made speeches “apologizing for America,” a phrase to which Paul Krugman objected in a December 23 column arguing that politics has advanced to the “post-truth” stage. As an Op-Ed columnist, Mr. Krugman clearly has the freedom to call out what he thinks is a lie. My question for readers is: should news reporters do the same? . . .