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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.
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