The recent launch of Apple's iBooks Author application stirred up excitement about the potential for next-generation digital textbooks, but a software licensing issue also raised concerns.
The iBooks Author app provides textbook authors with templates for creating multimedia e-books for tablets like the Apple iPad. Books created through iBooks Author will be available for sale on Apple's iBookstore site, and, given a stipulation of the software's end user license agreement, the books might only be available on that site.
The EULA clause in question states that any author who uses the iBooks Author software to create a textbook can only sell that book on iBookstore. Many potential users have balked at this; on her blog, computer science textbook author Liz Castro wrote, "If I create a book, I want to be able to sell it anywhere I want, not only through Apple."
Authors such as Castro might be overreacting, intellectual property expert Evan Brown told Ars Technica. Brown said the EULA language is in keeping with industry standards.
"The notion of placing a 'condition' on the use of software is at the heart of software and content licensing," Brown said.
Apple's situation is instructive for other tech businesses, which might expect increasingly alert consumers to be paying more attention to EULAs and other software contract and licensing agreement components. Businesses will be well-advised to use a software license agreement template, to avoid the confusion and potential bad publicity that can follow from poorly worded agreements.