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Apple Accepts, Then Rejects BitTorrent iPhone App 163

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the make-up-yer-mind-wouldja dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Apple recently approved an iPhone app called IS Drive, which lets users check and manage downloads from ImageShack.us, while also offering users the option to use the company's BitTorrent service to download files to their ImageShack account. Once Apple got wind of what the app was capable of, however, it was promptly removed from iTunes."
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Apple Accepts, Then Rejects BitTorrent iPhone App

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  • Apple keeps an iron grip over apps. It's weird that they would approve something like Bittorrent at all!

    • by TheKidWho (705796)

      Apple is a company that has many employees under it's wing. Despite what you might have been lead to believe, Steve Jobs doesn't personally approve or reject of every app. People make mistakes, news at 11.

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @10:07AM (#33808490) Homepage

      Apple keeps an iron grip over apps. It's weird that they would approve something like Bittorrent at all!

      From TFA ...

      Kepner theorized that the app was able to sneak in past Apple’s censors because he avoided using the word “torrent.” Well played, Sir Kepner. Well played.

      So, the way he described it, they didn't quite realize what it was actually doing. The reasoning from Apple was:

      this category of applications is often used for the purpose of infringing third party rights. We have chosen to not publish this type of application to the App Store.

      I can see why they don't want to get embroiled in any of the legal stuff associated with Torrents. While they do have non-infringing uses, I can see a company like Apple just deciding they don't want to risk the legal actions which could result.

      The *AAs aren't above suing absolutely everyone who had anything to do with distributing anything which can be/is used to do filesharing. Apple doesn't want to jeopardize their iTunes contracts by appearing to support that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by characterZer0 (138196)

        I can see why they don't want to get embroiled in any of the legal stuff associated with the Internet. While it does have non-infringing uses, I can see a company like Apple just deciding they don't want to risk the legal actions which could result.

      • so true. it's not like the whole ipod business was built on piracy or anything. i mean ask anyone with a few thousand tracks on their players.
        • by gstoddart (321705)

          so true. it's not like the whole ipod business was built on piracy or anything. i mean ask anyone with a few thousand tracks on their players.

          Ummm ... I've got something like 6,000 tracks in my iTunes library. Not a single one was pirated -- they're all rips from CDs that I own. I've bought several hundred CDs over the last few years. I know several people with thousands of tracks ripped from CDs in their collection.

          iTunes has sold a couple of billion tracks as I recall. The iPod business was built on e

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by PeterBrett (780946)

            so true. it's not like the whole ipod business was built on piracy or anything. i mean ask anyone with a few thousand tracks on their players.

            Ummm ... I've got something like 6,000 tracks in my iTunes library. Not a single one was pirated -- they're all rips from CDs that I own. I've bought several hundred CDs over the last few years. I know several people with thousands of tracks ripped from CDs in their collection.

            Are you in the UK? If so, yes, you're a pirate. Because, over here, copying tracks from a CD (which you own) onto an iPod (which you own) using a PC (which you own) is unlawful.

          • iTunes has sold a couple of billion tracks as I recall. The iPod business was built on ease of use, and the ability to buy the music you want and get it in a convenient format. I think the actual software had something to do with it, since it is pretty easy to use.

            Of course, the iTunes Store was launched two years after the iPod.

      • by Dotren (1449427)

        I'm sure that probably is the reason they pulled it, however, to be fair shouldn't they disallow all forms of digital transfer protocols that are often used for the "purpose of infringing third party rights"?

        This would of course include FTP and HTTP but I don't see them stopping people from using either of those.. especially HTTP.

        Bittorrent gets a bad rap now because it is one of the best file transfer methods/protocols at the moment and is therefore often used for the third party infringement they speak of

        • by MBGMorden (803437)

          From a company perspective, it boils down to frequency.

          Bittorrent has many legitimate uses, but it is (MUCH) more frequently used for illicit/illegal purposes. In essence, the legitimate use is the exception, not the rule.

          FTP and HTTP also have many legitimate purposes, and those legitimate purposes is their most common use.

          It's like Wal-mart deciding not to sell bongs. Sure, there are legal uses for bongs, but that's not their typical use, and having them available is bad for their corporate image becaus

      • by houghi (78078)

        I hope they don't have an ssh or telnet applet, because that is also a tool many hackers use.

      • I can see why they don't want to get embroiled in any of the legal stuff associated with Torrents. While they do have non-infringing uses, I can see a company like Apple just deciding they don't want to risk the legal actions which could result.

        Tbh, that is a really poor excuse. A plain web browser is probably the most used tool for copyright infringement yet they still supply one. Even more, they actively develop one.

        If they start to disapprove of apps because they can _possibly_ be used for copyright infr

      • by Ziekheid (1427027)

        Are you going to tell me that I couldn't find any popular MP3 as a webdownload through google in 5 seconds? Should Apple ban webbrowsers too then? Oh well, what do I care, It's not like I would ever restrict myself to using an iPhone while phones with Android are available.

      • by mweather (1089505)

        I can see why they don't want to get embroiled in any of the legal stuff associated with Torrents

        Nobody has ever or will ever get in trouble for distributing a torrent app.

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Nobody has ever or will ever get in trouble for distributing a torrent app.

          OK, then perhaps you can explain why they could sue limewire [mashable.com] but not torrent?

          Honest question? Was limewire providing servers or something tangibly different?

          Sometimes it seems that if you can get a sympathetic judge, you can argue all sorts of things in court. Sometimes, they'll even find in your favor.

          • OK, then perhaps you can explain why they could sue limewire [mashable.com] but not torrent? Honest question?

            Why don't you research it? Two minutes of Googling got this:

            The court ruling listed 5 factors that, taken together, establish that LimeWire "intended to encourage " infringement: 1) LW’s awareness of substantial infringement by users, 2) their efforts to attract infringing users, 3) their efforts to enable and assist users to commit infringement, 4) LW’s dependence on infringing use for the success of its business; and 5) a failure to mitigate infringing activities.

            Everybody likes to make gun manufacturer analogies, but Limewire and sites like Mininova, Pirate Bay, and so on are like gun clubs that list places to go to kill people. If Smith & Wesson offered software to trade gun information and 95% of the information exchanged contained content like "Where to kill Caucasians", "Where to kill Blacks", "Where to kill Asians", "How to rob a bank using your Smith & Wesson", and so on it's rather difficu

      • I can see why they don't want to get embroiled in any of the legal stuff associated with Torrents.

        It takes a special sort of perverted mind for that sentence to make any sort of sense. But people like those wear suits and work for the MPAA and RIAA! It's some sort of karma that the same sort of people (people who need help to get their printer to work, and will never know what an "Internet" is) also work for Apple's legal department. So we have a situation that regardless of what reality actually is, the perception of reality employed by the RIAA is now the de-facto legal standard at tech companies.

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          It takes a special sort of perverted mind for that sentence to make any sort of sense.

          My apologies. :-P

          Nowadays, it is so damned hard to keep track of which things the *AAs will sue over, and which they wouldn't.

          Limewire got sued, Torrent Freak got shut down, I'm not even sure what Napster is anymore or if it exists. ISPs now have to police copyright on behalf of content owners. I just don't know any more.

          So we have a situation that regardless of what reality actually is, the perception of reality employe

      • by pclminion (145572)

        I can see why they don't want to get embroiled in any of the legal stuff associated with Torrents.

        It's not like the application is downloading torrents TO THE PHONE. It's just a coordination tool. If that's off limits, then they should really remove Safari from the phone, since a web browser can be used to search the Internet for infringing content.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        this category of applications is often used for the purpose of infringing third party rights. We have chosen to not publish this type of application to the App Store.

        I can see why they don't want to get embroiled in any of the legal stuff associated with Torrents

        You're marketspeak to English appears to be a bit rusty, I'll help you out:

        Translation: "This procedure allows end users to get around the controls we've placed in Itunes".

        You've got to be delusional to think Apple cares about piracy of oth

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by alexhs (877055)

      FTFA, the app was previously rejected under the name "Jack Torrents".
      After the last developer guideline change, it was resubmitted as "IS Drive", hiding the fact that it was actually doing BitTorrent (from the article video, isoHunt and Mininova tabs have also been hidden along the name change, for example).
      That's why the app got approved...

      • But it's not actually 'doing BitTorrent' anymore than your remote control is 'doing TV reception'.

  • I would not waste the scarce AT&T bandwidth on torrents.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by biryokumaru (822262)
      The ImageShack servers do the torrenting. You just tell them what to download so you can download it straight from them later.
    • by f0rk (1328921)

      I, on the other hand, would waste all of my unlimited bandwidth, if i could.

    • by idontgno (624372)

      I would not waste the scarce AT&T bandwidth on facebook.

      FTFY.

      That said, the torrenting isn't done over-the-air. It's a proxy torrent system, with ImageShack doing the torrent download.

  • From Apple via the TFA:

    We have chosen to not publish this type of application to the App Store.

    In addition to the published list of restrictions there is a second, secret, list of types of application that Apple has chosen not to publish. There is no way to know if your type of application is on that list without submitting a fully working application.

    • by mdm-adph (1030332)

      Well, we should've known their recent spate of openness was too good to be true.

    • by Thinine (869482) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @10:18AM (#33808678)
      No, Apple recently released all of their criteria publicly, and this standard was on that list. http://developer.apple.com/appstore/guidelines.html [apple.com]
    • TFA was referring to the refusal given to DriveTrain as an example of why Torrent apps have gotten turned down in the past.

      As Kepner chose not to publish what Apple sent him, we can only speculate as to the reason why it was pulled. Besides, the bit of the article you clipped did indicate what Apple told the developer when it was refused. You may not agree with the reason, but there was one: no secrets there.

  • by iONiUM (530420)

    I see some arguments about Apple not wanting to get involved in the *AA legal debate with torrents, but I don't understand how that's related to them at all.

    Are we so far gone that we can't even have a torrent app because we *might* pirate things with it? I'm sure there are valid use cases for having torrents on the iPhone. It should be the carriers that get angry about torrents, not your friggin OS/hardware provider. You don't see Microsoft getting angry about uTorrent, it's the ISPs. What's going on here?

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by garcia (6573) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @10:25AM (#33808846) Homepage

      Are we so far gone that we can't even have a torrent app because we *might* pirate things with it?

      While we'll probably never know due to the lack of transparency about the whole process, it's likely due to AT&T. Their network can't very well handle the traffic it has now and certainly won't be able to handle pegged upstream and downstream connections from the growing number of iPhones.

      As an iPhone user who has been experiencing more and more slow network connectivity, I could care less if someone has a BitTorrent application on their phone installed via Cydia but I certainly don't want the majority userbase accessing it to peg their connections to download *anything* legal or illegal content aside.

      • While we'll probably never know due to the lack of transparency about the whole process, it's likely due to AT&T. Their network can't very well handle the traffic it has now and certainly won't be able to handle pegged upstream and downstream connections from the growing number of iPhones.

        The phone doesn't do the torrenting, it just remotely controls the torrent client that runs on imageshack's servers (and their bandwidth).

      • by hitmark (640295)

        Skype was allowed onto the app store once they had established that it could only operate over wifi. Why not the same for this?

      • by mjwx (966435)

        While we'll probably never know due to the lack of transparency about the whole process, it's likely due to AT&T.

        First thing, I thought Apple had the carriers under thumb, at least that what I keep being told whenever something bad happens to Android.

        Secondly, what about WiFi only, this didn't get banned because it used 3G data, it got banned because it downloaded data onto the device.

        Thirdly, what about all the other telco's, Vodafone (worldwide), Hutchinson (Worldwide) T-Mobile/Deutsche teleco

    • by mjwx (966435)

      but I don't understand how that's related to them at all.

      It's not.

      Torrenting is a way around Itunes. Getting around Itunes eliminates apple's ability to control the device as well as trying to get you into Apple's other products and services (the fanboys will lambaste me for this but that doesn't change the fact Apple is using Itunes in the exact same way as MS used Windows to leverage IE, except Apple is less successful). The big problem is not piracy, if it was Apple would prevent you from loading un

  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @10:15AM (#33808622)

    Once Apple got wind of what the app was capable of...

    Isn't the whole purpose of vetting apps to figure out what they are doing (and that no "bad" behaviour is included - no malware)? It seems that if this app gets through the vetting process, from the of it doing only what it's advertised to do, that there's something terribly wrong with Apple's vetting process.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Have Blue (616)
      From the description in the article, especially the phrase "sneak in", it sounds like he deliberately obfuscated the functionality of the app. It's happened a few times before- an app is submitted with a questionable feature disabled, then once it's in the wild a switch is thrown on a server and suddenly it's capable of more than was ever shown to Apple. The vetting process being susceptible to targeted attempts to circumvent it does not mean that a "total breakdown" occurred.
  • So does that mean that Apple will disallow VNC apps? Because, you know, those can also be used to manage BitTorrent downloads.

  • Using BT legitimately will have to wait until they are home to download their Linux ISO! Such injustice!

    It's a shame that a few bad eggs ruin it for the rest of us...
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Hooray for pulling numbers out your ass.

      • I had to reach deep for it.

        It wasn't supposed to be serious. I just don't see this as such a big deal when Transmission has a perfectly capable web interface that works on the iPhone and Android. Also, Apple sure doesn't want to piss off the RIAA.

        Do you have numbers on illegal vs. legal torrents? I can't find any decent sources.
  • But...but...I use BT to download World of Warcraft patches and Redhat ISOs! This is inhumane! You've crippled the iPhone!

  • Obious Reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @10:27AM (#33808888)
    To everyone planning on blasting Apple for rejecting the app, please check the submission guidelines they recently published. The reason this app was rejected is spelled out in clear detail there - the developer has nobody to blame but themself for the app's rejection. They knew they were submitting an app that wouldn't be approved because they hid certain functionality, which is precisely the reason the app was going to be rejected.

    2.4 Apps that include undocumented or hidden features inconsistent with the description of the app will be rejected.

    When you do something against the rules and get caught, don't be surprised that there are consequences. Don't want to play by those rules, then don't. That simple.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Combatso (1793216)

      Don't want to play by those rules, then don't. That simple.

      Seems to me they didn't want to play by those rules, and didn't.

    • by demonbug (309515)

      I think you are a little confused here... the reason it got rejected originally was the loose connection with bittorrent. This had nothing to do with obfuscation (aside from the fact that the developer tried to hide the bittorrent aspect in the second release) - the second one was rejected for the same reason as the first one, namely because it had something to do with bittorrent.

      Yes, they knew they were likely to get rejected, but not because they hid a feature - they knew they would be rejected because Ap

    • But why are apps that just *manage* bittorrent downloads on other machines banned? You can even use Safari with uTorrent's web interface. Maybe it should be banned.

      And people have every right to 'blast Apple for rejecting apps'. The submission guidelines are not the ten commandments that we all should follow just because they're sacred. We should be free to criticize them.

      • by Duradin (1261418)

        You know, for types that go all "liberty or death!!!1!!" whenever anyone tells them to do (or not do) something slashbots sure do love telling other people how they should run their services.

        This store isn't selling what I want them to sell! In the name of freedom and liberty we must force them to sell this! They rejected my app because of their guidelines! They must use my guidelines, I demand it!

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        You can even use Safari with uTorrent's web interface. Maybe it should be banned.

        Oh, well there you go, it's duplicating functionality...apparently you can't do that either...some of the time...

    • by cbope (130292)

      Then why doesn't this apply to all apps and even the device OS? Weren't there a few reported cases recently of the iphone itself or some apps secretly firing off data to the mothership or a developer?

  • by tomweeks (148410) Works for Rackspace on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @10:31AM (#33808980) Homepage

    Well, this just validates what most FOSS advocates preach... closed systems are self serving and antagonistic toward freedom. This is one reason why I've never financially supported Apple products (since the introduction of the Mac in the 80s).

    Tweeks

    • I'm not as pure a FOSS adherent as you — all my personal computing devices are from Apple — but I definitely agree that without FOSS we'd have less freedom and innovation in computing today.

      • all my personal computing devices are from Apple — but I definitely agree that without FOSS we'd have less freedom and innovation in computing today

        I bet that if Apple was running the show back in the 80's there would be no linux at all.

    • Offtopic: Whats up w/ the rackspace logo?
  • The Apple giveth and the Apple taketh away...

  • ... or just more of the same?

  • said that Apple ain't evil?

    yeah.....

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