I've been following the heated discussion around the license agreement for Apple's new iBooks Author tool that lets budding publishers create their own iBooks for Apple iBookstore. Apple basically says that if you create an eBook for the iBookstore with the app, you can't take the iBook file you created with the tool (or the PDF file, for that matter) and sell it somewhere else. Given that the iBook file you export from the iBooks Author is DRM free, this, in practice, means you can't sell the file on your own site, for example.

I can see why some people wouldn't like that, but at the end of the day, it's not a big deal either (especially given that you can give away free versions of you book without DRM and outside of Apple's channels).

What Does the EULA Really Say?

Apple's EULA for the app says the following:

B. Distribution of your Work. As a condition of this License and provided you are in compliance with its terms, your Work may be distributed as follows:

(i) if your Work is provided for free (at no charge), you may distribute the Work by any available means;

(ii) if your Work is provided for a fee (including as part of any subscription-based product or service), you may only distribute the Work through Apple and such distribution is subject to the following limitations and conditions: (a) you will be required to enter into a separate written agreement with Apple (or an Apple affiliate or subsidiary) before any commercial distribution of your Work may take place; and (b) Apple may determine for any reason and in its sole discretion not to select your Work for distribution.

At first blush, this sounds similar to Microsoft saying that the novel you wrote in Word can only be sold in the Microsoft Store. The reality is different, though. Apple doesn't claim any ownership of the content you put into iBooks Author. The text remains yours (though the good folks at Gizmodo seem to think differently).

Your Content is Yours – Sell it Wherever You Want To

Apple clearly defines 'work' as "any book or other work you generate using this software." It's the book Apple cares about – the final product the program generates, not the content you put into it.

iBooks Author is, in the end, just a tool for laying out your content so it looks nice on the iPad. Nobody is stopping any author or publisher from using another tool to sell the same content on another platform.

Apple is making a free piece of software available that allows you to create books for the iBookstore. Your content remains yours, even after you start selling the book in the iBookstore. So what's the big deal again?