Here’s an odd reversal. We’ve written a number of times about Apple pulling or rejecting apps from its store for fairly shaky reasons, but yesterday a story broke about Apple actually standing up for an app when the New York Times wanted it pulled down.
The app in question is Pulse, an iPad RSS feed reader that has been getting good reviews, both at our sister blog Appletell and elsewhere. Steve Jobs praised it at WWDC yesterday, and even the New York Times itself gave it a glowing review.
But apparently someone in the New York Times legal department objected to the fact that Pulse, a commercial app which costs $4.99, features the New York Times RSS feed as one of its defaults, and also didn’t like the way Pulse handled links to articles (though it’s not all that different from how other RSS readers such as Google Reader handle them). They asked that the app be pulled, and Apple briefly did so.
The app’s developers uploaded a new version of the app with the New York Times removed from the default feeds…but then Apple reinstated the original version of the app, with the New York Times included, just a few hours later.
It’s kind of like the Murdoch vs. news aggregators thing all over again—each side thinking the other is getting the better end of the deal. It remains to be seen whether the New York Times will press its objection, or object to other RSS readers on the same grounds.
Did I miss something? Didn’t Teleread report last week how Steve Jobs wants to do whatever is necessary to save newspapers like the Washington Post and the New York Times?
I guess Teleread dropped some words in the article, words like: “Jobs wants to save these newspapers so he can make money off of them. Otherwise, Jobs could care less whether they live or die because he doesn’t read any more.”
Bravo Apple! I love to see displays of backbone like this.
I’ve also grown tired of reading stories about online stores that buckle under after receiving any cease and desist letter from a lawyer, yanking someone’s content or product without just cause.
I’ve experienced it myself. A CafePress t-shirt I created got yanked when a lawyer representing Saul Zaentz, owner of the rights to Lord of the Rings paraphernalia, sent them a threatening letter, which I was not even allowed to see. Shame on CafePress.
My t-shirt, which was promoting my book, Untangling Tolkien, is protected by no less than three specific provisions in trademark law, any one of which makes claims of trademark infringement invalid. The lawyer knew that. She was simply a jerk operating in a profession that allows its members to engage in just that sort of behavior.
A physician who threatened a stranger with dire harm if he did not behave as that physician demanded, would be quickly stripped of his license. No doubt about that. We need to do precisely the same with bogus cease and desist letters from lawyers. One such letter would revoke a lawyer’s license for a year. The second would revoke it permanently. And in both cases the lawyer should have to pay heavy damages to the recipient of the letter as well as all legal fees.
Again, many thanks to Steve Jobs and Apple for not crumpling when the lawyers from the NY Times came a threatening.
Let’s see, the App linked to the NYT, which is a service to the NYT which they didn’t want? They also displayed some free advertising, also which the NYT did not want? It is no wonder that the newspapers are in financial trouble.