Apple Informs Bloggers It Will Be Using Their Content In Its 'News' App Via An Opt-Out Only 'Agreement'

from the just-thought-we-should-tell-you-about-all-the-things-we-said-you'd-do dept

UK’s The Register has noticed an Apple job posting for a rather unusual position: in-house journalist. Better surround that word with scare quotes, because it’s entirely unclear how both writing for a company and being an ethical journalist are supposed to work together.

The role requires a bachelor’s degree in journalism or “a related field”, more than five years of newsroom experience and “a deep knowledge of multiple content categories”.

“They will have great instincts for breaking news, but be equally able to recognise original, compelling stories unlikely to be identified by algorithms,” it said.

It added: “Successful editors will be ambitious, detail-oriented journalists with an obsession for great content and mobile news delivery.”

Not surprisingly, the ad fails to mention anything about independent journalism. So when news breaks about its nemesis Google’s Android, or factory conditions in China, we can be sure Apple News will be scrupulous in its complete lack of coverage.

While this foray into company-sponsored “journalism” looks to be about as credible as Verizon’s short-lived exploration of the medium (in which topics like net neutrality and government surveillance — the things EVERYONE was/is writing about — were verboten), the more interesting part of the The Register’s article is the second half.

Apple has introduced its own “News” app, and now it’s looking to fill it with content. Other people’s content. Presumably handpicked from thousands of Apple-friendly bloggers and journalists. Mike Ash received an emailed “invitation”/”agreement” from Apple informing him that his RSS feed was headed towards Apple’s News app, with or without his permission and that if he had any problem with the terms of the agreement he never had a chance to agree to, he should opt out.

When your RSS content is included in News, here are the terms that will apply:

  • You agree to let us use, display, store, and reproduce the content in your RSS feeds including placing advertising next to or near your content without compensation to you. Don’t worry, we will not put advertising inside your content without your permission.
  • You confirm that you have all necessary rights to publish your RSS content, and allow Apple to use it for News as we set forth here. You will be responsible for any payments that might be due to any contributors or other third parties for the creation and use of your RSS content.
  • If we receive a legal claim about your RSS content, we will tell you so that you can resolve the issue, including indemnifying Apple if Apple is included in the claim.
  • You can remove your RSS feed whenever you want by opting out or changing your settings in News Publisher.

Some of those receiving similar emails may have tuned out during the fine print recitation and missed the last line.

If you do not want Apple to include your RSS feeds in News, reply NO to this email and we will remove your RSS feeds.

Apple obviously doesn’t understand the word “agree.” When you make something opt-out only, there’s no agreement being made. A certain percentage of those targeted by these emails will never read them. Others may never receive the email at all. And yet, Apple claims they’ve “agreed” to these terms. Others that fail to see the opt-out wording will also be considered “agreeable.”

As Ash puts its, this isn’t an “agreement” in any sense of the word. While providing an RSS feed cedes a certain amount of control over content distribution (in all honesty, Apple never needed to half-assedly ask for permission to add the feed to its News app), it doesn’t automatically entitle Apple to pile on additional stipulations that can only be disagreed with by the recipient taking additional steps — rather than taking affirmative actions that would indicate a willingness to comply with the “agreement’s” terms.

I want everybody to know about the ridiculous stunt Apple is trying to pull here. I’d have been perfectly happy if they had just sent me an e-mail saying they were going to include my feed, and if I didn’t like it I could e-mail to opt out. I’d even be happy if they didn’t even give the option to opt out! After all, having an RSS feed in the first place is an implicit opt-in to that sort of thing. But trying to dictate terms on top of that while telling me that I automatically agree to them unless I opt out is unacceptable, even if the terms themselves are relatively benign.

This is no way to run a service… or a business. It’s very likely Apple carpet-bombed the internet with similar emails, opting-in plenty of strings-attached content without the creators’ permission or actual agreement. This is nothing but laziness, tinged with a hint of entitlement. To be “selected” by Apple for its News app is apparently supposed to be an honor. Making it opt-out saves it the hassle and expense of staffing a response team to handle opt-in emails. But that would mean sending actual invitations, rather that presuppositions that let Apple do what it wants without the explicit permission of those whose content it’s using.

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Companies: apple

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Comments on “Apple Informs Bloggers It Will Be Using Their Content In Its 'News' App Via An Opt-Out Only 'Agreement'”

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48 Comments
Aston Ishedsays:

HOLY CRAP! Another of Techdirt's startling REVERSES! "Other people's content." ... "those whose content it's using." !!!

C’MON. QUIT JACKING US AROUND!

Is Techdirt from now on going to stick with the implications of “Other people’s content.”? Or will next article again assert something silly as the notion that purchasing a DVD means you own the content? Or that ANYONE has a right to torrent or upload or “share” content other than on licensed physical media? Or go back to asserting that Aereo was entitled to use CBS’s content? Or Rojadirect? Or Meltwater can even scrape headlines?

It’s astonishing to one (nearly the only one!) who has argued here for years that “Other people’s content.” is the basis of copyright in common law and statute, and gotten nothing but enraged denials and vicious attacks! But now this minion just blithely puts it out!

I’m not buying it. This is just an ad hoc, one-time argument. I can’t recall Techdirt writers even mentioning Chinese factory conditions before. It’s an attempt at faking Populism.

Techdirt has LESS THAN ZERO credibility. Tomorrow this ANOMALY will be over, and they’ll be back to defending Kim Dotcom getting millions from selling ads drawn by “Other people’s content.”


“When you make something opt-out only, there’s no agreement being made.” — That would include Google tracking EVERYONE it can all over the net via browser header / javascript hashes / cookies. WHO has ever agreed to Google doing that?

John Fendersonsays:

Re: Re: HOLY CRAP! Another of Techdirt's startling REVERSES! "Other people's content." ... "those whose content it's using." !!!

Did you read the article? The point being made isn’t that there’s something wrong with Apple using the content. The point is that there’s something wrong with Apple placing demands on people without their consent. Specifically:

You confirm that you have all necessary rights to publish your RSS content, and allow Apple to use it for News as we set forth here. You will be responsible for any payments that might be due to any contributors or other third parties for the creation and use of your RSS content.

That’s a contractual obligation. Apple is wrong here because it’s saying that it can hold you to a contractual term that you never agreed to.

Aston Ishedsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: HOLY CRAP! Another of Techdirt's startling REVERSES!

You clearly did not bother to read mine, just bloviate to distract.

I copied the phrase “Other people’s content” from the article. I did not introduce a new off-topic concept, but picked up on the KEY point, and want to take the piece in this direction:

Is Techdirt from now on going to stick with the implications of “Other people’s content.”?

Circumstances are irrelevant compared to the over-arching RIGHT TO CONTROL COPIES, especially to not have huge commercial entities monetize it without explicit permission. “Other people’s content” is what Apple is stealing. “Other people’s content” is what you pirates are stealing. See the similarity there?

This cannot be considered in a vacuum as you fanboys wish in order to keep your piracy from being seen as immoral. If “Other people’s content” is valid here, then it applies everywhere.

YOU TOO MUST KEEP YOUR PAWS OFF “OTHER PEOPLE’S CONTENT”, PIRATES.

Don’t bother to respond. (That’s probably going to make a contrarian like you respond!) — It’s futile in both directions. I write only for hypothetical persons who don’t have your pro-piracy bias, but are willing to consider MORAL principles.

Wallysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: HOLY CRAP! Another of Techdirt's startling REVERSES!

It is intellectually dishonest of you to claim that we must divorce the phrase “other people’s content” from associated context.

Go fuck right off to those who promote geoblocking and who try to eliminate the concept of the “first sale doctrine” from digital copies because of how the physics of the Internet mandates exchange of a sold good is made.

Note how this website often supports Netflix. It sells LEGAL access to copyrighted content. But it does so in a manner that’s affordable and convenient.

Nice try with your attempted guilt trip. I look forward to the day you and your parasitic middlemen employers are out of a job.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: HOLY CRAP! Another of Techdirt's startling REVERSES!

“” “Other people’s content” is what Apple is stealing. “Other people’s content” is what you pirates are stealing. See the similarity there? “”

Wow, I didn’t know reading/using an RSS feed deletes the content on the host. But then I also thought people use torrents to copy stuff but if they are stealing it then the copy the creator has must be deleted somehow during the process.

MrTroysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: HOLY CRAP! Another of Techdirt's startling REVERSES!

I copied the phrase “Other people’s content” from the article. I did not introduce a new off-topic concept, but picked up on the KEY point, and want to take the piece in this direction:

Just because it’s the point of most interest to you, don’t make it the KEY point.

A few paragraphs later the article even specifies that the content isn’t the point (emphasis added):

While providing an RSS feed cedes a certain amount of control over content distribution (in all honesty, Apple never needed to half-assedly ask for permission to add the feed to its News app)

… which is about as much as that point needs to be discussed.

The KEY point of the article, as everyone else has pointed out, is Apple trying to pretend that an opt-out “contract” is enforceable.

Gwizsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: HOLY CRAP! Another of Techdirt's startling REVERSES!

“Other people’s content” is what Apple is stealing.

It’s obvious that you either didn’t read the article or didn’t understand it. As Mike Ash put it (which is quoted in the article):

After all, having an RSS feed in the first place is an implicit opt-in to that sort of thing.

Putting your material on a RSS feed has already been established as an implicit opt-in to have your material republished elsewhere on the web. If you don’t want it used – don’t put in an RSS feed.

This article is complaining about Apple trying to force additional terms when they use the material from RSS feeds, which isn’t cool.

There is no contradiction in Techdirt’s view, except the one you’ve made up in your head.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: HOLY CRAP! Another of Techdirt's startling REVERSES! "Other people's content." ... "those whose content it's using." !!!

Wake up and smell the roses and get off your trolling.

The thing here is Apple wants control of putting your data out there but doesn’t want the responsibility if there is a legal issue that comes up. They want the benefits and not the negatives. So they are being sneaky about the way they approach it.

If you can’t find where the problem is in that, you do have a problem indeed and it’s not just trolling. It’s a lack of smarts to go with it.

Aston Ishedsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: HOLY CRAP! Another of Techdirt's startling REVERSES!

There you go again with “your data”! But I’m sure you argue that MPAA and RIAA artists have NO right to “their data”!

Point is that Techdirt writers use the concept of “your data” only when suits the one article. You and they are not consistent on it.

ottermatonsays:

Re: Re: Report and move on

For those of you who don’t know, this Ashton Ished character is none other than the TD plague formerly know as “Out_of_the_Blue” who trolled this site for quite some time. Successfully, I’ll add.

There’s no use responding to it. There’s no point. Just don’t even bother.

How we rid ourselves of this disease before was to auto report any of its posts and just ignore it. Trolls need attention to survive. For those who didn’t know better and did respond, they got reported as well (even while their points were often valid and correct). In this way we suffocated it and it left us alone for a while. Seems to be time to do it again.

I encourage everyone to report this troll, ignore it, and report any responses.

Report every post in this thread. Even this one.

That One Guysays:

A rule of thumb I’ve seen mentioned before, and that seems fitting here, is that anything you need to opt-out of, is a bad idea.

If they really thought it was something you would want, it would be opt-in, opt-out is basically for stuff that they know you would’t want on your own, but they’re going to force you to jump through hoops in order to get out of in the hopes that the process will be seen as either too difficult or too confusing for most people to do so.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If you want to get down to the technicals, search engines are just browsers.

Sure, you didn’t “opt-in” to have search engines crawl your content. But you’re the one that opened your site to anyone who wants to view it via the internet, and search engines are just that.

AKA, you’re the one that posted your website with your own blacklisting rules, and robots.txt is just a specialized form of blacklisting.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The thing is, while opt-out, robots.txt is an exclusionary list — meaning that it is assumed that if you make something available over port 443, everyone has access to it. You’ve made this decision yourself, and so putting stipulations in a robots.txt file is your proactive decision.

Now if Google said that you are legally responsible for the content of any ads that show up next to your item in their search results unless you put an opt-out line in your robots.txt line, that would be similar to what Apple is doing here.

So technically, you’re correct. But contextually (considering he was saying “rule of thumb”) robots.txt is a false example.

Anonymoussays:

WTF? Has Apple truly lost its mind? First, they’re contacting bloggers to inform them of their inclusion in Apple’s service. Then, they’re dictating to bloggers that they must not only remove objectionable content but to adhere to Apple’s own policies, that Apple will make advertising revenue on the content without compensating the bloggers?

Have they lost their mother F**cking minds?

This takes a lot of balls to demand that bloggers adhere to Apple’s own policies, especially since Apple never asked these bloggers for permission in the first place?

WOW.

All I have to say to Apple is: F.U.

Gwizsays:

Re: Re:

responding to one of those guys who hope to derail the discussion is helping that creep.

I disagree. For starters, derailing the discussion doesn’t really bother me all that much. Some of the most intense, informative and entertaining conversations here in Techdirt’s comment section have had absolutely nothing to do with actual article. Discussions among humans are always a fluid thing and I see no reason to limit them with artificial restrictions – even if it annoys some people.

And secondarily, I firmly believe that incorrect or incomplete statements should be exposed and corrected so that other readers have enough information to come to their own conclusions.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

The difference is, with EULAs, if you don’t agree you aren’t allowed to use the software because copyright; by using the software you are assumed to have agreed to the EULA, since if you didn’t agree copyright applies by default.

With this insane Apple opt-out attempt, there’s no action on your part that’s enabled by your agreeing to their terms. Your publishing of your RSS feed in no way depends on them. What applies by default is your own copyright, not Apple’s.

Therefore, there’s no action that would imply in you agreeing to their terms. Unlike with an EULA, where using the program is only allowed by copyright if you agree to its terms.

kog999says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“The difference is, with EULAs, if you don’t agree you aren’t allowed to use the software because copyright; by using the software you are assumed to have agreed to the EULA, since if you didn’t agree copyright applies by default.”

Didn’t the copyright owner sell me a license to use that copy of software when i purchased it. If not what did i pay them money for? Was it for the right to read their EULA, because that not how they advertised it? When i buy a book i have the right to read it as soon as the transaction is complete. could a book have an EULA on the first page and would i be bound to it by not returning the book and continuing to read it?

John Fendersonsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Didn’t the copyright owner sell me a license to use that copy of software when i purchased it.”

The contract is not completed until you accept the EULA. You accept the EULA, usually, by installing the software. The transaction is not complete until the EULA-accepting act is performed.

Up until that point, you can return the software for a full refund since the deal isn’t done yet (technically — but there are many ways companies make that a difficult process).

naschsays:

Journalism

UK’s The Register has noticed an Apple job posting for a rather unusual position: in-house journalist. Better surround that word with scare quotes, because it’s entirely unclear how both writing for a company and being an ethical journalist are supposed to work together.

It could be done, but Apple is not high on the list of companies that might do a good job of it.

ntlgncesays:

Maybe this will show them iusers, that Apple IS telling them what they can and can’t do on their idevices. Forcing them to view the internet and things on the internet the way iapple wants them to view it. ( its worse then the media censorship in America). And iusers are too dumb to see that. The sad part is if enough people fall into this “dumbness”, it will become the only way things are on the internet. We all need to stand up and fight against the ibigbrothers. Tell your friends who own an iphone what they are creating for the rest of us.

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