Apple has clashed with comic creators over its decision to ban Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals from selling on the iOS version of Comixology. The title, published by Image Comics, tells the story of two people whose orgasms give them the power to stop time (!).
Somewhat confusingly, at time of writing Apple was still selling the comic via its iBooks storefront.
In a statement, Image Comics commented that:
“Apple is free to make whatever decisions they deem best for their business, but there’s a level of inconsistency here that is difficult for the creative community to understand. In this instance, there’s little difference between the content of Sex Criminals #1 (which is available in the iOS Appstore) and Sex Criminials #2 (which was rejected). Likewise, when you compare the standards for the iBookstore with the standards for the iOS Appstore, there’s not a lot of common ground, and that makes decisions like this seem somewhat arbitrary. No real explanation is given one way or the other and we’re left to guess what triggered the rejection. It’s almost as if their lack of defined policy is their policy.”
Speaking to CBLDF (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund) Image Publisher Eric Stephenson elaborated by opining that, “It would be a real shame if any creator at Image or anywhere else chose to tailor his or her content to meet criteria that is only barely defined [by Apple’s TOS]. That would be like trying to hit a moving target, and plus … I don’t think comics or any other medium needs a company like Apple dictating what we can or can’t read, watch or listen to.”
This is, of course, by no means the first time Apple has been accused of censorship, with all of the usual arguments invoked. While there are too many famous instances to list here, perhaps the most (in)famous was Apple’s temporary decision to ban an illustrated adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses in 2010 on the basis that it contained an image of bare breasts: the irony being that the original novel was the subject of a landmark 1933 censorship battle ruled in favor of free speech.
So what do you think? Is Apple acting in the interest of users by banning potentially objectionable material — or is it unnecessarily violating freedom of speech?
Take your time to answer. Something tells me this debate isn’t going anywhere quickly…