iBooks Author: You Can Sell Your “Work” Elsewhere, Just Not In The Format Created By iBooks Author [Opinion]

iBooks Author About pane

There’s been a lot of fuss overnight about what exactly Apple is claiming ownership of in the Terms and Conditions associated with its new iBooks Author application for Mac. The fuss is understandable, because the wording of the license agreement gets a little bit muddy.

Here’s the relevant section from the iBooks Author Publishing and Distribution FAQ:

Q: Can I distribute works created with iBooks Author as part of a product or service that charges a subscription-based fee?
A: Books created with iBooks Author may not be sold as part of a subscription-based product or service. iBooks Author books must be distributed free of charge or made available for sale via the iBookstore.

Note the careful wording of “works created with iBooks Author”, “Books created with iBooks Author”, and “iBooks Author books”. They all refer, very specifically, to the finished product you create with iBooks Author.

Now, here’s the preceding item from that same FAQ:

Q: I’m an author (or publisher). Can I distribute this work on my own website?
A: You may distribute books created in iBooks Author free of charge on your own website. If you wish to sell your book, you must do so through the iBookstore.

What isn’t clear here is the difference between what Apple calls a book, and what (for want of a better word), I’ll call the text. The book is the finished product. The text are the words you wrote that go inside it.

In this FAQ, Apple doesn’t do a very good job of clarifying this crucial difference. But it is clarified in the application’s license agreement (which you can get to from its About box).

A note right at the top of the license agreement says:

If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software (a “Work”), you may only sell or distribute such Work through Apple (e.g., through the iBookstore) and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple.

So, the thing Apple calls a book or a Work is the completed, formatted file that is generated by iBooks Author. That’s the thing you can only sell through the iBookStore.

But: the text remains yours. The unformatted raw text that you slaved over in Word or Scrivener or BBEdit or whatever you use to write in – that text is yours to reformat in another application, resulting in a file of a different format, which you’re free to sell elsewhere if you wish.

So, in summary:

  • A “Work” = a thing you make in iBooks Author, using text, images, video, and whatever else you want to use
  • That “Work” results in a specific file in a specific format
  • That file can only be sold through the iBookstore, but can be given away for free elsewhere
  • The individual elements that make up the “Work” – including the text of the book – remain yours. You can use another application to create a very similar digital book, and you can sell that book in other book stores

Dan Wineman is right when he says that Apple is claiming a right to this software’s output. But don’t misread that to mean that Apple is claiming all rights to the written text that makes up a part (albeit the larger part) of that finished work.

At least, that’s my understanding of it all. I might be wrong. Please don’t tell me I’m wrong; my brain hurts enough already.

Related
  • mango aqua

    Well, I truly hope you’re right. And I hope Apple confirm this to put people’s minds at ease. Otherwise, it would be such a wasted opportunity not only for writers but Apple themselves.

  • Krista

    This is how I see it as well- sure hope your above interpretation of it, is correct as well.

  • Eduard Tiesto

    Right on the money (pun intended :) ). From what I gather, this is even more “democratic” than the App Store: from Apple’s stance, you can only make your apps available through the App Store, be they free or not. So this garden has paper walls. Content is your to make of and with it what you will. Free .iba-s are out of Apple’s garden (but of course readable only on iOS/OSX for now, and probably for some time- a business decision that I really don’t dispute). Wanna SELL them? Apple gets its cut. So really it’s a ballancing act. You can either make a fuss about them wanting to promote their own hardware via software (which they give you for free and which as I see makes things quite easy for content creators) or go SELL your content any other way you like. People who want to work hard and believe in their content will make it available on as many platforms as possible. Upstarts who don’t have the money for the tools will probably use iBook Author, hope at exposure and give Apple their cut for making it easy on them (the app store is a huge success, remember?). And lazy people will either do the same as upstarts, or complain about how this is a hindrance to their creative endeavor (?????).  :)
    Just my 2 cents (well, a bit longer :) )

  • Kevin Daniels

    You don’t have to use the program !!! There are many others. If you don’t like it ask for you Free Money back LOL

  • Al

    It’s still unusually restrictive.

    Imagine if this applied to other apps. What if music created through GarageBand could only be sold on iTunes? Sure, I could easily re-record my melody and lyrics on some other software, but why should I need to?

  • DrM47145

    It is not restrictive, it is right.

    Anybody in Apple’s shoes would have done the same thing, and it is legit. Otherwise, Apple’s iBook Author could be used to empower competing platforms. Why would they be so stupid?

  • garyhorsman

    In defense of Apple, they’re providing free software that, through their online bookstore, can net you as an author a profit in a high-profile marketplace. If you don’t like the terms of their software agreement, there are plenty of other tools for creating ePub-formatted works that you can sell in the iBooks store, Amazon.com or any other ebook seller.

    I think it’s reasonable for Apple to provide free software in exchange for a source of revenue using their marketing dynamics and resources.

    I think people will use iBooks Author to make books they can sell in the iBooks store and they will make money and they’ll be super happy and Apple will build up a giant catalog of exclusive titles that will raise their profile. And that’s all that Apple really cares about.

  • DrM47145

    Exactly! Those who do not like the terms, don’t use it. Period. Two days ago you guys didn’t have it, and life was good. Why do you now feel your life is ruined? What the heck is this feeling of entitlement???

  • garyhorsman

    GarageBand is not offered for free. And the final format produced is not married to iTunes the way ePub version 3 is married to iBooks.

    And yes, other apps on the market do restrict the commercial activity you can participate in using their software. It’s more common than you realize.

  • DrM47145

    Those who do not like the terms, don’t use it. Period. 

    Two days ago the bloody thing did not exist, and life was good. Why do some people now feel this EULA is ruining their life? What the heck is this feeling of entitlement???

    “Usonians” have a weird interpretation of rights and entitlement. This lawyer-driven society has poisoned many generations.

    GET OVER IT! IT IS WHAT IT IS, AND THOSE WHO DON’T LIKE IT, JUST IGNORE IT :-)

  • Djan Marsiglia

    Ok, but, what if I pick my entire 1000 pages text, and then, format it with interactivity, animations, transitions, hyperlinks, cross-references and etcetera, following exactly the same design I used in iBooks Author, but using other tools (a.k.a Flash, HTML5, AIR, Flex, etc), and start selling it in Android Market, Windows Marketplace, Ovi, Samsung Apps, Amazon, etc… Will I be sued by Apple??

    Because I think I have the right to design my book and sell it where I want, the way I designed it. If I use other tools and create the same design I made with iBooks Author, but the visual and interactive elements are the same in both… Will Apple sue me? OR If I already have my book designed full of interactive and multimedia elements, created in other platforms, and then, remake it in iBooks Author following exactly the same design… then I’ll be forced to stop selling my book elsewhere?

  • Glenn Broadway

    Getting sued isn’t the issue – they’re more likely to just take it off the iBooks store.

  • Jake Brosy

    Finally. A sane article about this software.

    The document a user creates with iBooks Author is a one-off implementation of the ePub 3 standard created by a proprietary software designed to populate a specific eco-system – in the hopes of gaining wider acceptance of a company’s hardware. As an Apple shareholder I could not be happier. And as a consumer of digital books I’m pretty darn excited as well.

    Finally “books” that do more than translate paper to pixels. If a few publishers can get on board with a new vision of publishing (not necessarily iBooks, mind you – but interactive content) they might revitalize the mainline publishing industry – an industry tied to a business model developed before the industrial revolution.

  • Djan Marsiglia

    So, if I want my book in iBook Store, there are only two ways? Redesingning it or publishing without the “iBooks Author” features? Or is there a way of publishing it the way I already have it (made with other tools)?

  • Jake Brosy

    Perhaps Djan should read the license agreement instead of the posts created by other people too lazy to read the license agreement:

    “you generate using this software” – Apple doesn’t say you can’t create a similar appearance using whatever tool you can master. Just “this software”.

    Read the license – not the blogosphere.

  • ADimensionOfMind

    All the supposed fuss about iBooks Author is the usual anti-Apple drivel that follows any announcement the company makes.  Any publisher has it’s claws in you from the moment you decide to sign up with them, and you may only get 10% of sales at the very very best, 2% deals are not unheard of.  I’ll gladly sell through a publisher who’ll give me 70% of sales, and the ‘free’ software to do something innovative with my book.  ‘Traditional’ publishers are a hell of a lot worse to their authors than what Apple has on offer : )  And as always if you don’t want to publish using iBooks Author ummmm …don’t!

    So all I need now is a 15″ Macbook Air to work on and I’m good to go Apple! : D

  • Djan Marsiglia

    Hi Jake:

    One of my doubts here states this case:
    “If I use other tools and create the same design I made with iBooks
    Author, but the visual and interactive elements are the same in both… “

    How will Apple know the difference between both? And If everything in it is identical, but I made two books with two different tools, How can Apple be sure I used another tool instead of iBooks Author, to publish the identical book in Amazon? So, Apple could block my book unduly, Am I wrong?

  • Djan Marsiglia

    In my case, I’m not anti-Apple. I really like Apple and its products (I myself have macs, accessories, ipods, etc from Apple and love them).

    All my doubts rely on the Author/writer’s perspective. I’d like to keep my right to see my interactive/multimedia/full multitouch book everywhere… not only in iBook Store.

    The software launched is very impressive and attractive for me. But the book design concerns involving this software makes me feel unsure…. a little bit affraid…

    I know I can always use other tools, publish my book without jumping/flying/exploding thing in it, but imagining the possibilities, this tool is good, but limitations don’t seem to be that good for me….

  • Djan Marsiglia

    In my case, I’m not anti-Apple. I really like Apple and its products (I myself have macs, accessories, ipods, etc from Apple and love them).

    All my doubts rely on the Author/writer’s perspective. I’d like to keep my right to see my interactive/multimedia/full multitouch book everywhere… not only in iBook Store.

    The software launched is very impressive and attractive for me. But the book design concerns involving this software makes me feel unsure…. a little bit affraid…

    I know I can always use other tools, publish my book without jumping/flying/exploding thing in it, but imagining the possibilities, this tool is good, but limitations don’t seem to be that good for me….

  • ADimensionOfMind

    A nice calm considered response Djan, and if it’s not for you, it’s not for you.  Give someone a while and similar creation software, hopefully low cost, will appear to compete that will better suit you needs

  • SweetJackson7

    Try lulu.com for publishing outside of iBooks Author.  There are so many other ways to produce e books and Apple is getting on board.  I think this is great and can’t wait to start writing my own math textbooks for my students!

  • Don Pope

    We need Apple to state this in black and white.
    The current language is too vague.

  • chano

    The app can easily embed some ID code that flags the fact that it was created with iBooks Author.
    I think it is fair enough that Apple follows this path. It is unusual but it makes sense. A proprietary format with restrictions on it usage. For all I know there may even be embedded code designed to inhibit wanton copying. That would be a good idea too.

  • Sky Willmott

    Wonder how it stands if I were to produce a book using iBooks Author and then offer it ‘free’ to paying customers on say a branded USB memory stick, whereby what they pay is actually for the memory stick??? 

  • ??nD ??os??A

    This are of copyright law is way more complicated than you can imagine.  For starters “instructional texts” are one of the enumerated categories in the Copyright Act of 1976. That has all sorts of implications on copyright.  Also, as far as I know, you cannot transfer rights except in writing and that transfer should be registered with the copyright office. I don’t think Apple can ever own the copyright to something you create, but they may view the output of their tools as something they own the rights to, as a derivative work of the authors words. That does not mean that Apple owns your words, you do.  Apple owns the rights to distribute content created with their tools. 

  • Yacko

     Because it will look different unless you micromanage the second tool to make the result look exactly like iBooks Author. All your files, text, audio, video are the ingredients you pump through the “sausage maker” of iBooks Author and the book is the finished sausage. Running the raw files through a different grinder/authoring tool will inevitably diverge in style.

    More importantly, if this is a textbook we are talking about, and that is all Apple is talking about so far, a teacher will want all students to have the exact, and I mean exact, same multimedia text. The teacher will want to reference “page” numbers or whatever markers are used. For the textbook companies partnering with Apple, this will make Apple’s case that the iBooks version is the one official product to be viewed on a 9.7″ 4:4 screen iPad.

  • Boltar

    “Imagine if this applied to other apps.”

    It does. Lots of Academic licenses forbid commercial use of documents produced with the software.

  • Yacko

    How will you make it “page” for “page” identical using a different tool and formatted for mostly wide 7″ devices? For the moment this is about textbooks. Will a teacher be able to make a “page” reference and all students be able to read specific sections on their own. Seems to me, to make a second identical product, well that’s going to take a lot of fussbudget work.

  • DrM47145

    It’s funny you actually see limitations, when the most remarkable thing about the software is that actually breaks quite a few big ones.

  • DrM47145

    This argument has no sense.

    Imagine we are in the ages where the first paper press was invented, and people start arguing “but what about those that still write in stone? we can use this brand new machine called Paper Press for those who read from stones!”

    It makes no sense to me.

    The day the Amazons, the Barnes and Nobles from the world, the Androids develop something like iBooks Author (which I’m sure they soon will, as usual), then the ones who prefer stone will be listened.

  • DuaneBemister

    You can Save to PDF from the iBooks Author application.

  • GC

    Absolutely not! Apple does not claim ownership of the design of the book/work or even of the book/work itself. They only claim that if you want to sell the output from the tool they provided to you, iBooks Author, then it must be sold in the iBooks Store. If you want to give it away for free you are free to do that in the iBooks Store or on your own web site or perhaps any other web site that want to provided that service. Once you try to add a price to the book/work it must be sold through the iBook Store exclusively. 

    Also, if you want to recreated the book using other tools so that it works exactly as it does in iBooks you are certainly free to do so, Of course you won’t be able to use any of the licensed content that are included in the Apple supplied templates in iBooks Author, unless you arrange for your own licensing of that material.

  • Alfiejr

    this is all one more instance of absurd blogsphere paranoia about Apple.

    today, authors make contracts with publishers. the publisher prints, owns, and (whole)sells that actual physical book, not the author. duh #1. the author only owns the copyright to its non-physical content – the text and maybe the illustrations. duh #2. in fact, unlike the Apple EULA,  the contracts are usually exclusives for some period of time – the author cannot have any other publisher print the same non-physical content at all. the author may even be forbidden by the contract to make the full non-physical content available for free, like posting the text on line. duh #3.

    all Apple’s EULA says is, by analogy, an author can’t use Apple’s paper and bindings to make a book the author then sells through some other wholesale or retail seller than Apple’s store. but it’s not an exclusive – the author can use another company’s paper and bindings and go ahead and do exactly that with some other edition of the same non-physical content, even at the same time. and they can even give the whole thing, including Apple’s paper and bindings, away for free if they choose! duh #4, #5, and #6.

    so once Amazon and Google knock off iBooks 2 software, an author/publisher could sell the same digital book – the copyrighted content – simultaneously on all three. they just can’t use Apple’s software to create the other versions – so they will just use some other software. duh#7. and then you won’t need an iPad to read that book, other kinds of “readers” – Android or whatever – will work for those other editions too. Apple’s EULA does not stop that. duh #8.

    this is all so incredibly obvious and the paranoia so incredibly stupid it is hard to believe. what children.

  • John

    As far as I understand, this is similar to what other companies offer. Aquafadas and Adobe have similar arrangements. Aquafadas clearly states that they offer the software tools for free and charge for the publication.

  • John

    As far as I understand, this is similar to what other companies offer. Aquafadas and Adobe have similar arrangements. Aquafadas clearly states that they offer the software tools for free and charge for the publication.

  • toomuchtatose

    So… I get “Paranoia = Stupid”.

    You are free to embrace your favouritism for any company, but remember the reason why someone else would call you “mindless sheep”.

  • Alfiejr

    let me tell you what i really think. at least i know how to read a simple contract and grasp the meaning of plain English, rather than knee-jerk project baseless fantasy fears into its plain words. that isn’t favoritism, it’s basic rational competence. and yes, anyone who really thinks that = “mindless sheep” is stupid.

  • toomuchtatose

    Reason why paranoia exist precisely because the EULA is not clear enough.

    Get it? No strangers I work with wants to deal with unclear contracts considering the lack of trust involved.

  • Alfiejr

    un-uh. the contract is very clear. if you don’t understand it, you get an “F” in today’s English comprehension test.

    but yes, thanks to the education system of the last several decades, there are millions of smart people who cannot write a coherent paragraph, let alone draft or understand precise contract language. so they are suckers (not mindless sheep) for this kind of alarmist BS. there are a hundreds of them populating the blogsphere today foaming at the mouth about this topic.

    between cable news and the blogsphere, public discourse in American today is dominated by intellectual incompetency. including most of the Republican party.

  • rattyuk

    You’re being pedantic. 

    “Ok, but, what if I pick my entire 1000 pages text, and then, format it with interactivity, animations, transitions, hyperlinks, cross-references and etcetera, following exactly the same design I used in iBooks Author, but using other tools (a.k.a Flash, HTML5, AIR, Flex, etc), and start selling it in Android Market, Windows Marketplace, Ovi, Samsung Apps, Amazon, etc…”

    If you can do all the stuff that iBooks can do, why haven’t we heard of your publishing empire? Because it is hard work. Trust me, I did something like that in the early 2000s and got well paid for it but it took a long time. 
    I spent a lot of money buying licenses for Director, Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, Office etc. But Apple have just made it easy to do. For free.

    What I am saying is that you can do what you like, pretty sure Apple won’t sue BUT it is going to take you a long time and I suspect the returns wouldn’t be worth it.

    “Or is there a way of publishing it the way I already have it (made with other tools)?”

    Here’s the thing. Nothing stopped you doing what you are suggesting the day before yesterday. In fact there are tools for people to do this. But they don’t bother or they spend a lot of money to do it right. Nothing has changed save for the fact if you want to publish a book in the iBooks format Apple has made it really easy.

  • aries1470

    Yeah, at last someone that understands what is going on!
    Wow, and to consider that I am normally a (cr)Apple hater, or dislike them 90% of the time. Mostly due to Jobs what he did in the late 90′s, but that is another story.
    But to be honest, I am with Apple on this one, 100% and backing them!
    I have posted in other places too about this.
    Like in this post in this site too:http://www.cultofmac.com/14147

    I am not going to repeat myself here, that is why I posted the link.
    In short, I would take the 30% and get on with it and also use other tools to publish the SAME using others, like Amazon and Barnes&Noble (depending on what their EULA is).

  • Ungenio

    Best.Explanation.Ever

  • albertkinng

    This is pretty easy to understand, either you go to a publisher to sell your book or you doit yourself with iBooks Author… What’s the better choice for you? IBooks Author? Then SHUT THE F… UP, BITCH!

About the author

Giles TurnbullGiles Turnbull is a freelance writer in England. He also writes for the Press Association and The Morning News. You can find out more at his website, and follow him on Twitter @gilest.

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