EFF knocks iPhone developer license agreement

The Electronic Frontier Foundation used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a copy of the iPhone developer agreement from a federal agency and doesn't like what it found.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation obtained a copy of Apple's iPhone developer license agreement and posted the 28-page document on its Web site on Tuesday.

The digital rights watchdog group used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the document (PDF) from NASA after it noticed the NASA App for the iPhone.

The EFF has also listed what it describes as "a few troubling highlights" from the agreement.

iPhone apps

In order to be eligible to sell an application on Apple's App Store, for example, developers must agree to the license agreement, part of which forbids public statements about the agreement. That explains why we haven't seen copies of the agreement or much discussion about it online.

The EFF also finds it problematic that the agreement forbids public statements about the terms of the agreement. Even though the terms are not confidential, developers are forbidden from talking about them.

Apple also retains the right to "revoke the digital certificate of any of Your Applications at any time." In other words, Apple can kill any app at any time.

Any application built with Apple's software development kit can only be distributed through the App Store. That means that sites such as Cydia for so-called jailbroken iPhone apps are off limits.

"If Apple wants to be a real leader, it should be fostering innovation and competition, rather than acting as a jealous and arbitrary feudal lord," EFF senior staff attorney Fred von Lohmann said on the group's site. "Developers should demand better terms and customers who love their iPhones should back them."

About the author

Jim Dalrymple has followed Apple and the Mac industry for the last 15 years, first as part of MacCentral and then in various positions at Macworld. Jim also writes about the professional audio market, examining the best ways to record music using a Macintosh. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. He currently runs The Loop.

 

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