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The EFF On The iPhone SDK Agreement: Apple Is A Jealous And Arbitrary Feudal Lord

March 9, 2010

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has given some interest this week to Apple's iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, the contract that every iPhone/iPad developer must agree upon (after carefully reading it, of course) to be able to make our dear apps. Well, they're not too happy about it.

To obtain this agreement, which developers are banned from distributing by Apple, they used quite a neat trick. Indeed, thanks to the freedom of information act, they were able to obtain a copy from the NASA after it started launching apps. Here are some of their highlights:

Apple seems to have done a good job protecting itself from the competition. For example, the agreement contains an App Store-only clause, which bans developers from using SDK-developed apps on other platforms:

Section 7.2 makes it clear that any applications developed using Apple's SDK may only be publicly distributed through the App Store, and that Apple can reject an app for any reason, even if it meets all the formal requirements disclosed by Apple. So if you use the SDK and your app is rejected by Apple, you're prohibited from distributing it through competing app stores like Cydia or Rock Your Phone.

This probably means that the recent jailbreak conversion of apps like Wififofum violates this contract. Further on, we have recently heard that Palm is on its way to release a system that will let iPhone developers convert their apps to WebOS. Well, that won't be possible either.

On top of that, Apple limits its liability for anything that could happen to $50. So, whether they reveal the source of a developer's program or send his list of customers to the competition, all one might get out of it, is $50. Hopefully, it doesn't come as an iTunes gift card.

Alright, some of these points are indeed a little shady and I understand why the EFF is not too happy about it. I believe however that you can find much worse in the license agreement department.

[via EFF]

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