iBooks Author – Do You Own What You Create?




iBooks Author is Mac app  allowing users to develop and publish multitouch digital books. If you author a digital book, you can then submit it to the iBookstore for purchase or free download, or distribute it through iTunes U, or use it with the iPad. It’s being touted as a way to bring digital publishing to the masses – for example, textbooks with embedded videos, audio and rotatable 3-D models that students can pinch and zoom.

Sounds great, but do you own what you create? Let’s have a look at the EULA (End User License Agreement v. 1.0.1).

According to the terms of the EULA (section 2(b)), you own the rights to the content that you create, and you can distribute that content any way you want, as long as it doesn’t include any files in the .ibooks format. (Making files in the .ibooks file format is the whole point of using this app.) If it does include .ibook files, then you can distribute the book by any means as long as you are giving it away for free. If you want to distribute your digital book for a fee, then it must be sold through Apple’s iBookstore, with Apple taking its customary 30% cut.

This does not mean (as some blog posts have suggested) that Apple takes any ownership of the content you have authored. You continue to own that content. The license terms mean that, by agreeing to use their software, templates and publishing tools (and in particular, the .ibooks file format), you agree to sell your iBooks book through Apple’s retail channel.

This isn’t really all that different from an author’s agreement with a traditional publisher, since a publisher will typically insist on exclusivity in handling final editing, packaging, marketing and sales of a book. They take a cut and share the royalties with the author. The author, who remains the copyright owner, is not free to then sell the book through a different distribution channel. They must sell through their publisher.
Calgary – 07:00 MST

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