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Censorship Iphone The Media Apple Politics

Apple Blocks Cartoonist From App Store 664

Posted by timothy
from the so-don't-support-apple's-gateway dept.
ink writes "Here is another troubling anecdote on the iWeb front: 'This week cartoonist Mark Fiore made Internet and journalism history as the first online-only journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize. Fiore took home the editorial cartooning prize for animations he created for SFGate, the website for the San Francisco Chronicle... But there's just one problem. In December, Apple rejected his iPhone app, NewsToons, because, as Apple put it, his satire "ridicules public figures," a violation of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, which bars any apps whose content in "Apple's reasonable judgement may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory."' Whether or not you agree with Fiore's political sentiments, I believe we can all agree that the censorship of his work should be denigrated."
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Apple Blocks Cartoonist From App Store

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  • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:07PM (#31863642)

    Yes, Apple has a locked down system that rejects apps for arbitrary reasons.

    This is a known fact, can we stop pretending its "stuff that matters?"

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:08PM (#31863662) Journal
    It's refusing to publish based on arbitrary criteria. But the same goes for all publishers. He's unlikely to be published in a cat magazine either because his work isn't about cats. That's not censorship either.

    The App store doesn't do satire. That's all.
  • by Michael Kristopeit (1751814) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:09PM (#31863674)
    if you want the cartoons, get an android phone or access them over the web.
  • Absolutely! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:10PM (#31863692)

    I absolutely agree, and when censorship starts happening of his work, we should be mad as hell.

    Oh, I'm sorry, you mean you thought that Apple not permitting things that violate a license agreement onto things that are restricted in terms of what they can load by Apple is a form of censorship. Well no, no more so than the SFGate site not permitting other random cartoonists onto their site is censorship.

    Censorship is performed by the government or an agent thereof, not by individual corporations. Any cartoonist, pulitzer prize or no, has a right to publish what they want - but they DO NOT have a right to force a publisher or anyone else to carry their content. Nothing is stopping him from providing the app for jailbroken phones.

    So if you're mad Apple is doing this - cool, it is definitely bullcrap, but don't start screaming about censorship without knowing what you're talking about.

  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:10PM (#31863694) Journal

    More importantly, can we stop pretending that this sort of censorship is what 'freedom of speech' protects against? If you honestly think that everyone should be required to publish the opinions of anyone who asks, tell me your address so I can come and paper over your house with my crazy rants, on your dime.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:11PM (#31863700) Journal
    Because they don't have a monopoly.
  • Re:Boo censorship (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HarrySquatter (1698416) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:13PM (#31863738)

    But this isn't censorship because Apple is not obligated to publish his app anymore than the SFGate is not obligated to publish every cartoonist in existence in their paper.

  • by xbeefsupreme (1690182) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:15PM (#31863766)
    It really does matter: saying that apple can reject any app they want may not mean much to the general public, but a specific example like this really puts it into perspective and gets potential iphone buyers/developers thinking "If they block an app in this circumstance, then apple can block apps for any circumstance".
  • This is why... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fm6 (162816) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:15PM (#31863772) Homepage Journal

    ... I don't own a Mac, iPhone, iPod, or any other iStuff. Apple does produce some really great technology. But I just can't deal with the whole Apple technology ecosystem. The company, its developers, and its users buy into a really obnoxious kind of groupthink, typified by those weird lovefests where the audience goes orgasmic every time Steve demonstrates something. Can you imagine any other place where they'd even consider a rule against "ridiculing public figures"? Gives a certain irony to that stupid commercial [youtube.com].

  • by dusanv (256645) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:16PM (#31863792)

    Chairmans Mao and Stalin would be proud.

  • Control freak. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:17PM (#31863810)
    But we're not talking about violence or a nipple or booby: we're talking about cartoons that would appear in your Sunday paper. Satire of public figures is nothing that the anti violence or anti-sex crowd would have a problem with - just which community standard is against satire and making fun of public figures?

    How would they get sued? If someone were to sue them then they'd have to sue the papers and everywhere else this man's cartoons appear. That would be a daunting task.

    I just see Apple being a bit too control freaky here.

  • by HarrySquatter (1698416) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:17PM (#31863812)

    Except unlike IBM or MS, Apple has never held a monopoly on anything. Its funny how people on Slashdot will both be quick to point out how the iPhone's market share is smaller than other smartphones yet at the same time will try to also claim that Apple is a monopoly. You can't have it both ways.

  • by bennomatic (691188) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:17PM (#31863814) Homepage
    The difference between Apple and Microsoft in these actions is like the difference between an old man shouting to get off their lawn and a protection racket.

    Unless you choose to play on the old man's lawn, he doesn't affect you. He's a jerk, but he's avoidable, much like Apple is.

    Microsoft is more like the protection racket; either strong vigilante action (for which Linux is emblematic) or law enforcement are the only way to stand up to those guys.
  • by HarrySquatter (1698416) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:24PM (#31863916)

    Yes. Do you have an actual point? If you are going to claim censorship with this then any refusal by any newspaper, book publisher, music label to publish someone's work would have to be censorship. Such an idea is patently absurd.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:25PM (#31863928)

    Yes, Apple has a locked down system that rejects apps for arbitrary reasons.
    This is a known fact, can we stop pretending its "stuff that matters?"

    And accept defeat? I'll keep pointing it out to people until Apple changes the system or kills it.

  • *sigh* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:25PM (#31863936)

    "Whether or not you agree with Fiore's political sentiments, I believe we can all agree that the censorship of his work should be denigrated."

    The righteous never think that what they say is propaganda.

  • Re:Boo censorship (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scrameustache (459504) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:27PM (#31863956) Homepage Journal

    But this isn't censorship because Apple is not obligated to publish his app

    It is censorship, it's just ordinary censorship. Like how you can't say in fuck in school. Why the fuck not? It doesn't hurt anybody: Fuck fuckety fuck fuckfuck.
    "Eric!" ...

    Sorry, I launched in a south park quote there, anyway, my point was that as I am now voluntarily censoring myself from quoting the rest of that Cartman diatribe, there are many common forms of censorship that happen in life, and Apple censoring stuff that might get them sued is unfortunate but tolerable.

  • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:28PM (#31863966) Journal

    Apple displays monopolistic, i.e. anti-competitive, behaviour. Who cares whether they're a monopoly? unless your aim is to punish success (i.e. Microsoft) out of spite rather than to stop activity which is damaging to the marketplace.

  • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:28PM (#31863972) Homepage Journal

    There isn't anyone upset with the app store inconsistency and stupidity that owns an iPhone? Really?

    And I'm not sure what you are betting on. That this will get widespread attention or that it will be news to anyone. You stated in the first post that everyone already knows about the problems with app store approval, so I'm guessing you believe that it already gained widespread attention.

    So I'm guessing that you are betting 1 grand that there wont be a single person surprised by Apple's decision in this instance. If that's the case I may want to take you up on it.

  • by ink (4325) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:28PM (#31863976) Homepage

    Why argue? Just use a dictionary:

    To censor [reference.com]

  • by PsychoSlashDot (207849) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:29PM (#31863990)

    We need to keep bringing up this stupid behaviour. We need to talk about it, think about it, and most importantly share this idiotic stories with those we know who don't read Slashdot.

    Why? Because this isn't okay. Like copyright extensions to infinity and like DMCA issues, Joe Average simply doesn't know what bad stuff is going on. The only way to cause change is by votes. Those votes might be at a ballot box, or at a cash register.

    You and I know what's going on. Each of these stories is a new bit of ammunition to us. Or would you rather we just accept corruption, bias, and philosophically repugnant behaviour so we don't need to hear about it anymore?

  • Re:Solution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:31PM (#31864008)

    Exactly, smart people move on, others quibble about things they really don't full grasp.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:31PM (#31864014)

    Have you used a dictionary recently?

    The other poster is right. You're confused.
    A shop declining to stock an item is not censorship.
    A publisher declining to publish a work is not censorship.
    A government body stopping speach or a work from being shared is censorship. But that's not what we have here.

  • by maxwell demon (590494) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:32PM (#31864020) Journal

    Ipod has 72% of the MP3 player market share.

    I don't have an iPod, but from what I've read I think you can put arbitrary MP3s on it, not just stuff from the iTunes shop. Therefore the problem doesn't exist there.

    Iphone has 18% of the smart phone market share.

    That's not even nearly a monopoly. It's less than 1/5 of the market.

  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:32PM (#31864034) Journal

    The only difference is that Apple is a private corporation and not a government (somewhat ironic for Libertarians, one would suppose).

    A corporation does not have the power to forbid you to express yourself. They only have the same power any of us have: the power to forbid you to express yourself on our property. A government can compel censorship with force. That's a HUGE difference.

    That being said, does Apple deserve to be made fun of for this? Hell yes. But let's not overblow our case and invite ridicule. Pretending Apple's actions are the same as those of a repressive state is just silly.

  • Re:Boo censorship (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheKidWho (705796) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:34PM (#31864056)

    Why should they allow you to install any app you want?

  • Redundant (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:36PM (#31864080)

    Apple fanboys will do what Apple says, regardless of what anyone thinks. And those of us who aren't in Apple's lap really aren't affect by this. So long story short - who cares? Apple is performing the sacred duty of separating fools from their money.

  • by windex82 (696915) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:37PM (#31864092) Homepage

    Maybe because it does matter to a big part of this sites readership. Many people who read this site are developers, many write iPhone apps. Knowing that if they make something too politically charged will cause it to be rejected wasting the developers time.

    Do you see why it might count as stuff that matters now?

  • by ink (4325) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:40PM (#31864152) Homepage

    That does not address the argument that was presented to you: if this is a case of censorship, then every single case where someone refuses to publish someone else's work is also censorship.

    It certainly does answer the question -- you just don't like the answer.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:40PM (#31864162) Homepage

    The important point here is the fact that Apple goes out of it's way to be the only publisher available for the iPad.

    This is simply a side effect of Apple's Walled Garden.

    What's going to be next? George Orwell novels?

    Oddly enough, some of the big names getting behind the iPad might publish this guys work. These big names might be able to get away with activity that the "little guy" would be banned from doing.

    That's another interesting and important aspect of the Walled Garden.

    Regardless of how you want to label it, it is a problem for anyone that likes to "Think Different".

  • Re:Absolutely! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:43PM (#31864180) Homepage

    Censorship is performed by the government or an agent thereof, not by individual corporations.

    I take it you've never heard of network censors?

    Hint: Network censors don't work for the government, they aren't government agents, and the rules they impose are often more restrictive than those required by the FCC.

  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:45PM (#31864218) Homepage

    Of course it's censorship. It's just not illegal censorship, since Apple is a private corporation.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:46PM (#31864220)
    No, its more like the old man invites you onto his lawn and then has you arrested for trespassing.
  • by Freedom Bug (86180) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:47PM (#31864228) Homepage

    Apple has a 99.4% marketshare in smartphone applications. Sounds like a monopoly to me.

  • Re:Solution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:47PM (#31864236) Homepage Journal
    This is why it is not censorship. If Texas chooses to not teach a part of history, that is censoring history because most kids do not have the ability to move to another state, or find various points of view. They are pretty much limited to the school, the city, the state in which they live.

    All that is happening here is that this one device is not in possession of one App. The SFGate is still available on the iPhone through Safari, and if it is not available it is only because the SFGate censors itself by requiring registration. This is not a case where a country is keeping it's people from viewing the material. It is one machine, with maybe 30% of market share, saying this App is not for it. If I could not use a web browser, or did not know how to buy another phone, I might care.

    Unfortunately place like Fox News has lowered the standards of debate so much that there is no point of any discussion on any meaningful topic. Fact is now what one wants to believe, not what is verifiably true. If a banner looks like it might be promoting Islam, it must be, even it is a representation of an atom.

  • by ink (4325) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:52PM (#31864320) Homepage

    You're changing the definition of the verb to censor. I understand why you want to do that, but it doesn't make your argument correct. The Chinese and the Iranians aren't the only people who censor information.

  • by Bakkster (1529253) <Bakkster@man.gmail@com> on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:52PM (#31864324)

    And I'm not sure what you are betting on.

    I'm betting that probably 99% of iPhone users will never hear about this and even they did they would give a resigned yawn and not care.

    Those that do hear will rant viciously about it, only to forget it happened within the week. The vast majority will continue to use their iPhone, purchase another is lost or broken, and may even upgrade.

    For an example of this behavior in alpha-male geeks, see the Modern Warfare 2 'boycott' [flickr.com]. Most people will rant about it, but not change their purchasing decisions, which is why Apple/IW/every other company can do almost whatever they want without hurting their bottom line.

  • by eiMichael (1526385) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:55PM (#31864360)

    supression != unwilling to use my resources to help you.
    Do you seriously believe that every printing press, web server, megaphone, etc. has to convey your message when you demand it?

  • by BobMcD (601576) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @05:59PM (#31864430)

    Have you used a dictionary recently?

    The other poster is right. You're confused.
    A shop declining to stock an item is not censorship.
    A publisher declining to publish a work is not censorship.
    A government body stopping speach or a work from being shared is censorship. But that's not what we have here.

    Walmart opting not to carry certain songs with explicit lyric is censorship.

    Publishers declining to publish works that make them uncomfortable, despite whether or not it would sell, is censorship.

    A government body stopping such is unconstitutional censorship, but other kinds can and do exist.

    When you deny access due to content arbitrarily, and without using any reasonable standard, that is a form of censorship - whether or not it is conducted by a government body.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:02PM (#31864476)

    Well, due to Apple's monopoly (yes, monopoly) as publisher on the iApps platform, they also have the power to suppress speech on other people's property. The monopoly really isn't in anyone's interest but Apple's, and this case does make that very clear.

    Is it a case of someone's constitutional rights being trampled on? Certainly not.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:02PM (#31864482) Homepage Journal

    I didn't but the Censorship line is what I am not fond of. Just like every store on the planet the have every right to pick and choose what they carry. The fact that Apple will not carry this cartoon app is nothing really shocking or any threat to anybodies freedom. It is also not censorship.

    The iPhone isn't the only smartphone. It is now and always has been a walled garden. So this is a big woop.
    If you don't like the product then don't buy it. If enough people don't buy it then things may change.
    As someone else I am sure has said.
    Put the app on other smart phones and get on with your life.
    Yawn........

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:05PM (#31864516) Homepage

    You point out some intriguing subtle differences.

    I think this is considered "censorship" because it rejects things for political reasons. For example, Slashdot would not reject a story because it involved racism or politics. Or because it shows Microsoft in a good light, or Linux in a bad light. They have a criteria: News for nerds, stuff that matters. While this is certainly subjective, it is never used to quash anyone.

    I think some of Apples other rejections would qualify as "censorship" in that they are self-serving political reasons. For example, Apple rejects applications that compete with them, or make fun of them. Slashdot would not reject a story just because it promoted a competing site, or pointed out a flaw about Slashdot or one of it's owners. But just try to make an app that portrays Steve Jobs negatively, and see if you can get that through.

  • by BobMcD (601576) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:06PM (#31864520)

    supression != unwilling to use my resources to help you.

    Which of Apple's resources are required here? In fact Apple stands to gain from this transaction, and is declining it in spite of this.

    It isn't as if Apple just doesn't have the manpower to approve this app.

    Do you seriously believe that every printing press, web server, megaphone, etc. has to convey your message when you demand it?

    Do you seriously support needing the permission of the megaphone's manufacturer for every word spoken through it?

    Hyperbole can be fun!

  • Re:Boo censorship (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plover (150551) * on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:06PM (#31864530) Homepage Journal

    Why should they allow you to install any app you want?

    Because it's my phone, my hardware, I paid for it with my money. Apple does not own it, nor any piece of it. I have the full right to use the software it came with in any way I see fit. And I have the right to put whatever software I want on it.

    Apple tries to assert that I do not have that right. Apple's only valid assertion is that if I install software from another source that they shouldn't have to support my stuff any more. Fine, void my warranty. It's still my device.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:08PM (#31864552)

    Walmart opting not to carry certain songs with explicit lyric is censorship.
    Publishers declining to publish works that make them uncomfortable, despite whether or not it would sell, is censorship.

    Nope, it's just selection. Every band or author that got turned down isn't a victim of censorship. They simply didn't produce a product that the company in question wanted to take on.

  • by dan828 (753380) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:09PM (#31864560)
    Censorship is the suppression or deletion of material for a reason. Any reason, and by anything from a single person to a large corporation or government body. It certainly is censorship that they suppress apps that satirize political figures, and it's not the first time they've done it. You see, Apple has direct control of what apps are allowed on their system, which means they control the content. And by controlling the content they can pick and choose what they let through. Last time I think it was funny pictures of Nancy Pelosi that they didn't allow, but I don't recall the exact details. This guy is extremely partisan, so I imagine they didn't want to risk the chance of getting into so political pissing contest about what content they allow and what they don't. Being seen as partisan is not a good business move for a big corporation.
  • by BobMcD (601576) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:11PM (#31864582)

    It isn't simple selection when it is backed by an agenda, and that would be the entire point.

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:15PM (#31864636) Homepage

    Read iCon [amazon.com] the bio of Jobs that Jobs hated so much that he banned all Wiley books from Apple stores.

    iCon is available for the Kindle. Some Kindle books are available for the iPad. "iCon" does not appear to be one of them.

  • The real reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by starfishsystems (834319) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:15PM (#31864652) Homepage
    The real reason that Apple is censoring applications by Mark Fiore is that he led the way in doing animated cartoons in Flash.

    Regardless of whether you agree with his views (and I think it's entirely possible for you to make your own choice whether to install an app whose function is to deliver political satire) his work is widely regarded as technically innovative and artistically stylish. And the Apple principals can't stand to be seen in conflict with anyone more innovative and stylish than they are.

    So rather than have him outclass them at the party, they'll just escort him out of the house, so to speak. There you go Apple, problem solved!
  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:16PM (#31864662)

    monopolistic, i.e. anti-competitive

    They're not synonyms. Nor does one imply the other. They mean something completely different.

  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:19PM (#31864696)

    I don't think the major problem is that they refuse to sell some apps - it's that they've made it so that the only way to obtain apps for the platform is through them, and THEN refused to carry certain apps. If Apple offered the app store as one method to obtain apps, and then allowed the user to upload whatever other apps he wanted (and he could obtain through whatever means), then people wouldn't really care.

  • by Moridineas (213502) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:21PM (#31864728) Journal

    My caring about this issue is completely non-existent due to the fact that even IF by some pedantic definition and argument about what "censorship" is (and arriving at a meaning that is not relevant to the common usage), Apple has simply chosen to not stock a product.

    If the artist's works were also available online, or on a site for pay, and Apple blocked access to his site, THEN I would view that as censorship.

    Declining to carry a product? Yeah, you may not like it, and it certainly is Apple censoring what they carry, but it is not Apple censoring YOU, so, big deal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:24PM (#31864770)

    Depends on *why* they're not publishing someone's work.

    "not commercially expedient" in a 1 to many consumed medium is different, you're example is inaccurate.

    iphone apps are peer to peer. The content never has to be seen except by the people who create it and the people who *choose* to consume it.

    Censorship plays out very differently on the Internet, and equating it to broadcast TV and/or newspapers is wrong.

    It's a bit closer to cable, and you can get pretty much anything you want over cable. Of course, cable is a regulated monopoly, because you generally have only a single choice of cable providers in any market.

    The iphone ecosystem, taken as a whole and as the various TOS define it, is a monopoly. While it's one thing for Apple to limit applications that could adversely affect the network or device, purely objectionable content is indefensible, except for adverse PR reasons.

    They are within their rights to censor all they want within their own distribution network. Where they are over the line is maintaining the only distribution network that can serve the iphone.

  • by anyGould (1295481) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:25PM (#31864776)

    It's a shame there isn't some sort of recognized internet protocol, where people could transfer text files that included links and images (we could call it "hypertext")..

  • Re:Not unusual (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:32PM (#31864842)

    Yes, no one has a political right to free speech in the Apple store, but nonetheless Apple is engaging in censorship.

    I'm a libertarian and I agree with your implied premise that Apple shouldn't be forced to host any app they don't want to. Doesn't mean they're not cowardly control freaks.

  • Re:This is why... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:34PM (#31864858)
    I know I'm going to get modded into the stone ages for this but, honestly, I find it amusing that you're posting about "groupthink" on Slashdot. Sorry, but let's be real, Slashdot is a collection of groupthink communities (Linux, Apple, MS, opensource, copyrights, etc., etc., etc.).
  • by guidryp (702488) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:34PM (#31864862)

    If a book publisher doesn't publish your book, you can always try another publisher.

    You can always try another platform. Apple doesn't owe anyone a place in their store.

  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:37PM (#31864908)

    Nobody's talking about freedom of speech, just about idiot censors censoring something that is obviously cultural, because they're too dumb, or scared of offending, to appreciate it.

    Therein really lies the risk of censorship:
    1- censors are not gods: they can fail, and either censor worthy stuff or not censor bad stuff
    2- in the case of "commercial" censors like Apple (who does it for the money) they'll always err on the side of not offending, at the expense of promoting challenging, meaningful stuff.

    I'm not saying that Apple doesn't have the right to do that... it may even be good for them.

    It is bad for us though, and we shouldn't encourage them. There are plenty of much freer platforms for use to support and move to.

  • by Geof (153857) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:46PM (#31865026) Homepage

    If Apple was the telephone company and it blocked the ability of Mr Fiore to communicate his satire to me, I think we would agree that (regardless of Apple's ownership of the wires) this was censorship, that it was bad, and that it should not be allowed. Indeed there are regulations to this effect.

    If Microsoft implemented something in Windows that blocked my ability to view Mr Fiore's cartoons on my PC, I think we would be likely to come to the same conclusion. In this case it I own the computer; there is a strong argument to be made that I should be able to choose how to use it.

    Now say I own an iPad. Mr Fiore would like to distribute his cartoons to me. Apple owns the app store, and they say No. They have implemented technical measures to prevent me from finding another way to get Mr Fiore's work onto the device I own. Furthermore, there is a law in place - the DMCA - that makes it illegal for me to work around those restrictions - even though I own the device, even though Mr Fiore would like to communicate (or sell) his work to me.

    In other words, the government has already intervened in this situation. It has done so on Apple's behalf. Citizens have every right to intervene in the public interest.

    As a society we use companies in the market as means to ends. We value communication; we have found the market is an effective way of enabling it. We have therefore regulated in order to create markets (through property rights, enforcement of contracts, and so on). We regulation different modes of communication in different ways. The telephone system is one example. The PC is another. Sometimes that regulation is done through government statutes, sometimes through regulatory bodies, sometimes the market is the regulating mechanism.

    Your technical question of whether Apple's actions constitute a dictionary or legal definition of "censorship" ignores any ethical considerations. I think Apple's actions here are bad. I am not interested in "hating" Apple because it is a company fulfilling obligations, not a human being capable of moral choice. What I am interested in is how we can encourage and enable human speech, expression and communication. This story demonstrates a failure in this regard.

    The question, then, is how to improve matters. Replacing Apple's control of the iPad with outright government control, to pick an extreme example, would likely do more harm than good. But there are other choices. One obvious response is to publicize and educate the problem, as Slashdot is doing. The government could fix the DMCA so that Apple can't use it to restrict my legitimate use of the product I own. Copyright and patent law are often used to create monopolies of distribution, to the detriment of artists and consumers: if Hollywood and the recording industry back Apple's approach, for example, we could end up with a single dominant channel of distribution. Our legislators should be concerned with this. We might also consider some kind of common carrier- or net neutrality-type regulation to ensure that channels like this are open. For example, it seems to me incredibly unreasonable that Apple gets the DMCA on side and is then able to behave like this. The law grants rights: it should also require the fulfillment responsibilities.

  • by s73v3r (963317) <s73v3r.gmail@com> on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:47PM (#31865028)

    He could easily just make a website, and make an iPhone optimized version of it then.

    And as far as mobile app stores go, he has plenty of other options. He can go to the Android store, or he can go to one of the ten billion other stores that sell Blackberry and WinMobile software. He is certainly not shut out of the mobile application market. Just one store found that his application was against their terms of service. Perhaps he should have read his dev agreement.

  • Re:Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:49PM (#31865060) Homepage Journal

    Is it not censorship when a news organization cuts a story because it offends a sponsor?

    This notion that only governments can be censors is a relatively recent invention, and is a form of newspeak to enable censors in all other walks of life.

  • by bennomatic (691188) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:51PM (#31865074) Homepage
    The AC post above mine was asking why people were OK with it from Apple, but not from MS, and I was just illustrating the difference.

    You can indeed distribute any app you want for MS phones, but if it competes with one of their favored apps, they won't simply say that releasing it is in violation of their T instead they will rapaciously put you out of business.

    Here's the thing, though; there's a back door into every iPhone: the web. Apple has made it clear that they support a totally open web. They also make it easy for people to set up a home page icon for any web site. So for a cartoonist's app, there's no reason that they couldn't simply set up a one-time paywall on a mobile site for iPod users and cut Apple completely out of the loop.

    This is really a tempest in a teapot.
  • Re:This is why... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jeremi (14640) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:52PM (#31865090) Homepage

    Slashdot is a collection of groupthink communities (Linux, Apple, MS, opensource, copyrights, etc., etc., etc.).

    Only so far as any themed discussion group is. There is plenty of disagreement on all sorts of topics on Slashdot (as evidenced by your worrying about being modded down -- if Slashdot was really groupthink, there wouldn't be any need for moderation). You might as well call a sewing circle "groupthink" because all of the people in it like to sew.

  • by bmk67 (971394) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:54PM (#31865124)

    Ah, I see. We're reading two different stories, then. Here's what I've been discussing [...]

    I'm fully aware of what we've been discussing.

    Apple is not preventing Flore from publishing. When last I checked, Flore publishes his work on the web.

    Apple isn't even preventing his work from being viewed on an iPhone/iPad/iPod - as all of those devices have fully functional web browsers.

    Apple *is* preventing Flore from selling his app in their app store, which is a far cry from suppressing his work.

    If Apple started blocking websites from being viewed on their devices, I'd have to concede that you have a point, but as they don't, I won't.

  • by s73v3r (963317) <s73v3r.gmail@com> on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:54PM (#31865126)
    Or they could not use Flash. Any web designer worth their salt will realize that not everyone has Flash, and as such should gracefully degrade their site so it can still be usable without it.
  • by CrackedButter (646746) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:55PM (#31865132) Homepage Journal
    I think they are at the very most damaging their own marketplace, the rest of the computing industry will chug along either copying them or ignoring them. If you compare their behaviour to Microsoft's history you'll see what it really means to be anti-competative. Apple are nowhere near that level for which you're trying to name them as.
  • by Tanman (90298) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @07:02PM (#31865196)

    buuuuut this is not like DMCA or copyright extensions to infinity.

    This is a private company, not the government. Also, this is a closed box -- think of the app store as a way for people to make nintendo games. Are you upset at the standards nintendo enforces on people making games for its platform? Then why get your panties in a bunch about the standards apple enforces on people making applications for its console?

    In other words, get over it and find something useful to do with your protests. If you don't like how they do it, make a competing product.

  • by s73v3r (963317) <s73v3r.gmail@com> on Thursday April 15, 2010 @07:07PM (#31865266)

    They don't have a monopoly over what gets sold on the iTunes store? They don't have a monopoly over iPads? iPhones?

    By that vein, then Best Buy has a monopoly over what gets sold in Best Buy. And Microsoft has a monopoly over the Xbox.

  • by Corporate Drone (316880) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @07:08PM (#31865282)

    It is censorship. Nowhere in the definition of that word is there anything about an obligation to publish something. You're just making up an arbitrary definition to support Apple. Wikipedia:

    Censorship is the suppression of speech or deletion of communicative material which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the government or media organizations as determined by a censor.

    The media organisation Apple's action fits the definition like a glove.

    No, Apple is not a media organization -- it does not create consumable content. It distributes it, much like the corner magazine stand. If your local magazine vendor chooses not to stock your favorite magazine, you can stand up and holler "censorship!" all you like ... or you can simply vote with your wallet and take your business elsewhere.

  • by Skippy_kangaroo (850507) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @07:12PM (#31865342)

    No. Apple displays competitive behaviour. 'Comptition' is pretty cut-throat and there is never any love lost between competitiors. Such behaviour only becomes 'anti-competitive' (i.e. contrary to the Sherman Act or similar) when you have a monopoly. For example, a new startup wants to get their product out there so they give away free samples; fine if you are a startup with no market power, but not if you are a monopoly who is thereby foreclosing competition.

    Apple also displays control-freak behaviour. Being a control freak and being a monopolist are two very distinct things. Not all control-freaks are monopolists and not all monopolists are control freaks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2010 @07:13PM (#31865350)

    Actually, you're missing the point. Apple isn't the publisher in this case, Apple has rejected an *application* that accesses content published by a third party that Apple finds objectionable. Yeah, I think that qualifies as censorship. Your argument *might* hold some water if Apple had to put significant effort into publishing the application on the appstore and that such effort was more than what Apple could expect to make back on its investment. Given all the free apps available, that sort of argument doesn't hold any water.

    Is Apple within its rights to do this? Yes. However, Apple is getting itself into a very gray area by rejecting applications on these grounds. Is there a big difference between Apple rejecting an application because of the content it accesses and an ISP that prevents you from accessing certain content that it finds objectionable?

  • by Knara (9377) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @07:13PM (#31865358)
    Your argument implies that DC should be sued because they have a monopoly over Batman. It doesn't work that way.
  • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @07:35PM (#31865606)

    A corporation does not have the power to forbid you to express yourself.

    I used to agree with you until Wal-Mart took over a large chunk of media distribution in the US and started dictating content guidelines to publishers.

    Any sufficiently-dominant corporation is indistinguishable from a government.

  • by CleverBoy (801540) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @07:43PM (#31865694) Homepage

    Your vague and open concept of censorship is very dangerous and ridiculous.

    Here's my question. .. You open a medium sized family store, where your customers can buy a generous array of merchandise that you find to by morally edifying and provide significant value. You move about 30-40 items a day, and your store does over $5,000 in revenue every week. One day, someone comes to you asking you to carry their Porn magazine. They insist that they have an audience in your community, and show you their sales figures. You decline. Next week, they bring a number of protesters by your store to picket you for censoring them.

    Who's free speech is being violated? Should EVERY store be forced to carry EVERY product anyone offers? Does the delivery mechanism matter (physical vs. digital)? If I was a neo-nazi, and advocated racism, should I be able to ensure my work is placed in Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Shaws super market?

    The store who wants to choose what they stock for customers, or the company selling adult magazines that feels you should stop blocking their product?

    If Apple put a filter into Safari that prevented you from creating homepage buttons that link to adult material or controversial websites... and then blocked you from accessing certain urls, and actively analyzed your photo library and prevented you from viewing images it determined were obscene... THAT would be censorship. Without a doubt.

    Choosing to only carry certain types of material in the App Store is editorial discretion.

    Customers can actively lobby for Apple to provide this material in their stores, arguing that they are underestimating demand and overestimating the negative effect of carrying such products to their brand. But, that's about it. Arguing censorship is a red herring for forcing companies to abandon their brand equity in favor of some naive notion of "free society" that has never been true.

  • by CleverBoy (801540) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @07:47PM (#31865754) Homepage
    Exactly. Unfortunately, its "deplorable" that anyone thinks "their definition" of "perfectly acceptable" should overrule everyone else (especially the ones who bare responsibility for what they sell). It's clear Apple is less interested in "blocking" or "surpressing" Flore, and more interested in not arbitrarily enforcing the same clause in their developers agreement.
  • by Requiem18th (742389) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @07:55PM (#31865840)

    Whether or not you agree with Fiore's political sentiments, I believe we can all agree that the censorship of his work should be denigrated.

    No, Apple denigrated themselves long ago, and Steve's fans continuously denigrate themselves by supporting his behavior with their wallet.

    We saw this coming from miles away when we first learned Apple would be policing what people run with their phone, why are people surprised now? A megalomaniac does fascist things with his company? I am shocked!

  • Why an app? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AlpineR (32307) <wagnerr@umich.edu> on Thursday April 15, 2010 @08:29PM (#31866134) Homepage

    Does your hypothetical iPad have a web browser? Can it visit www.markfiore.com? Could he post an iPad-compatible version of his cartoons there? Then why do you need an app for that?

    That's what really bugs me about all these smart phones and tablet computers advertising how many apps they have. We used to call most of those things "web pages". But now that they are "apps", we can't use them on our general purpose computers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2010 @08:47PM (#31866302)

    You may not be Fan boy but you are dumb.

    Terms and conditions DO NOT allow for a company/indivual to act irresponsibly or unreasonably.

    It really bugs me when people use f'ed arguments that do not address this key point.

  • by sbeckstead (555647) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @08:48PM (#31866308) Homepage Journal
    I believe we can all agree
    We can't all agree on what to have for lunch, you think that we should agree that censorship of this artist (who was unknown to many if not most of us before his Pulitzer work) should be anything but what it is, the privilege of the owner of the store?
  • by sbeckstead (555647) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @08:59PM (#31866426) Homepage Journal
    To Censor, still does not apply. Yes the person who denied the app probably acted as a censor in his capacity to judge the fitness of the app. But it is not censorship in it's broader meaning as in to suppress political thought by removing objectionable items from circulation. They did not stop him from publishing, they told him that they wouldn't publish him. Big difference.
  • Re:Inconsistent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mjwx (966435) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @09:01PM (#31866440)

    The App store has a MSNBC app for political cartoons. How is that any different?

    MSNBC have money. Apple like money.

    I predicted the corporate dominance over the Apple App store some time ago (2008, when the Iphone was released in Australia), small developers are being pushed out in favour of larger developers which deliver Apple more profit and are easier to control. From my perspective the App store was designed for this from the word go.

  • by sbeckstead (555647) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @09:24PM (#31866650) Homepage Journal
    declining with an agenda is the very essence of censorship.
    Declining to purchase anything for a reason implies an agenda. You have the cart before the horse.
    It is, however, deplorable and should be noted when it happens, particularly when it happens despite the best interests of their customer base and the company itself.
    But you are implying that declining to sell anything would then not be in their customers best interests. I hope and believe that most retailers have customer safety as an agenda. They don't always succeed in keeping that agenda, but they do try and by refusing to carry cheap toys that contain lead or objectionable themes (to the majority of their customers) is not censorship, it's good business.

    You have a twisted idea of what constitutes censorship and it seems that anything that goes against YOUR agenda is censorship.
  • by CleverBoy (801540) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:17PM (#31867084) Homepage

    Before you runaway with your assumptions... let's review. Sticking with THIS STORY, you're saying that you do not believe it is possible for someone to sell an app on the Internet, that allows you to view offline images of political satire Apple does not wish to carry.

    I think you're absolutely wrong, and that if the cartoonist in this story wanted to sell essentially gallery app online and allow customers to download the app to their iPhone for full-screen offline usage... they certainly could.

    Apple certainly created this scenario whereby they could make an uprecedented opportunity for developers turn into a liability and indictment on free-speech. As our media convergence happens, I expect to see iPhone OS on more device categories. Until I see XBox, PS3, Nintendo, and others opening up for all comers and content... I think things are decidedly imbalanced in terms of the degree of judgement being paraded around.

  • by Draek (916851) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:38PM (#31867262)

    You can indeed distribute any app you want for MS phones, but if it competes with one of their favored apps, they won't simply say that releasing it is in violation of their T instead they will rapaciously put you out of business.

    Yeah, just look at poor Google and what happened when they released the Chrome browser. Or IBM, Microsoft totally destroyed them after releasing Eclipse in a Visual Studio-dominated marketplace. And Oracle, going against MSSQL of all things!

    The Apple zealots of this forum have a tendency towards making Microsoft (and Adobe, at times) look worse than they are just to make sure dearest Apple looks no worse than any other company, if not the victim outright. Face it, Microsoft doesn't eat children for breakfast and Apple doesn't fart flowers and sunshine, and in fact given their actions these recent couple years I'd expect more abuse from going into Apple's turf than Microsoft's, in spite of the latter's giant size. StevieJ really *is* a jerk, after all.

  • by mgblst (80109) on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:12AM (#31868072) Homepage

    Is it censorship to stop me from painting my slogan on the side of your car? Or your house?

    Apple provides the hosting environment, where the app is downloaded from. Whether they gain or not has absolutely nothing to do with this issue.

    This is clearly a contentious issue, and I can see both sides of the argument.

  • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Friday April 16, 2010 @01:49AM (#31868268) Homepage

    The problem is the chilling effect when few organizations control many media channels.

    You lose when thousands of people self-censor, because otherwise they'd be unable to reach the iPhone market. You lose when you have no chance of reaching the iPhone market. This is not an all-or-nothing winning or losing, but a graded one. But communication and expression is not isolated: it occurs in the context of networks of people and platforms. If the population of iPhone customers is big enough to affect when does and does not get made and distributed, then it affects you even if you aren't an iPhone customer.

  • Re:Why an app? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2010 @06:27AM (#31869510)

    Well, the markfiore.com website shows his cartoons via flash applet only..
    It will be awesome if he gets rid of that.

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