Word has it that dictionary apps aren’t the only ones having a rough time with the iPhone App Store approval process these days – now e-books and e-book readers are purportedly being blocked because “this category of applications is often used for the purpose of infringing upon third party rights. We have chosen to not publish this type of application to the App Store.” It’s entirely likely that Apple just wants to steer clear of copyright squabbles, and it’s certainly their right to manage their store how they see fit, but it’s probably safe to say that the majority of those offering e-books are perfectly legitimate and have all the rights they need to publish the app – after all, it’s not in their best legal interests to be ripping off established authors and publishers. As for e-book readers, they’re being blocked simply because they could be used to access illegal content. I doubt that they’ll enforce this apparently new policy to the point of pulling the Kindle or Shortcovers app, but it wouldn’t be surprising, especially if Apple has their own e-book service in the works.
Is Apple justified in playing hardball against copyright infringement, or are they just shooting themselves in the foot by shutting out legitimate apps? One way or the other, hopefully these developers are considering other mobile platforms, where they can make the product they intended with considerably less hassle.