Apple of their eyes

With all the recent talk of new digital initiatives and anti-piracy efforts, I was interested to see this piece by Caleb Goellner at Comics Alliance:

“The consortium [of Japanese publishers and publishing trade organizations] basically says that Apple isn’t doing enough to defend against their material being pirated and sold through various apps for the iPhone and iPad. Apple says it’s impossible to check for all copyrighted material as it screens each submitted app, but the group says it’s unconvinced.”

If you do an app search, you’re almost certain to find an app that trades in pirated content at or near the top of your search results, just like pirated versions of popular manga will top results of any Google search you conduct. These apps usually aren’t free, so the app creators are making at least some marginal profit off of pirated works, which I think just about everyone not actively doing that sort of thing agrees is uncool. So it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me for these publishers to ask for Apple to step up, at least in the case of aggregation apps, particularly when some of the apps undoubtedly in question trade in nothing but pirated material.

Your thoughts?

4 Responses to Apple of their eyes

  1. Abnem says:

    In order to have a significant effect they would need to do more than just ban the blatantly linking apps, which is problematic as apps to view comics you acquired from places other than the apple store do have at least some legitimate purposes.

    Am I wrong in assuming you can just visit these websites straight up in the i-pad internet browser with any need for any app anyway?

  2. takingitoutside says:

    It seems to come down to a single question: who’s responsible for policing the internet? In theory, yeah, if Apple could cut out those apps which pirate copyrighted manga that would be great. In practice, if they accept that responsibility, they’re going to be deluged by people who want them to check for copyrighted books, blog postings, short films, movies and who knows what else. I can see why Apple wouldn’t want to open itself up to that. (I’m also amused that we’re talking about Apple, a company whose concept of the rights accrued by “buying” one of their products is more akin to everyone else’s concept of the rights given to renters.)

    It’s the same issue that sunk P2P groups like Napster and Bittorrent. There are only two major differences, one being that Apple has loads of money and a gigantic customer base that will start screaming the moment unhappy copyright holders threaten their I-whatevers. I don’t own any Apple products, but I might be with them on this one. I don’t think it’s a platform designer’s responsibility to police that platform (though turning over properly subpoenaed information would be, of course). On the other hand, Apple already exerts an extremely high level of control over their app marketplace. The hallmark of Napster and the rest was that they let people do whatever they wanted. With great power comes great responsibility, right?

    • davidpwelsh says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful comments and interesting questions.

      I think it’s the responsibility angle that intrigues me, especially as it combines with Apple’s demonstrated tendency to police its apps for an interesting range of reasons. (I know some people would substitute “troubling” for “interesting,” and they probably wouldn’t be wrong.) It seems to me that, if they’ll remove apps or prevent apps from being offered for being offensive, then apps that are actively illegal would be dead out of the gate.

      They’ll have to deal with a lot of these issues, I suspect, being the first person to offer what I think will become the reasonable, versatile kind of e-reader I think people were hoping for from the start. But I don’t buy in until the third or fourth generation, so I’ll have to take others’ words for it.

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