Mike Ash got an email from Apple about them automatically including his site’s RSS feed — among probably many, many others — as part of their new News app. His site’s feed is publicly available, so that’s cool with him, but there are some terms attached:
- 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.
Apple didn’t get to be such a wealthy company by leaving money on the table, but automatically appending RSS feeds with ads seems gross to me. Aside from the philosophical objections one may have, it cheapens the experience a little. It feels like a product where some middle manager needed to justify the “bloody ROI”.
- 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.
This is probably to protect Apple when a lawsuit is brought against third-party content, like if someone sued a writer on defamation grounds and named Apple because that story was available in News. And that makes sense; Apple should not be liable for stuff like that.
- You can remove your RSS feed whenever you want by opting out or changing your settings in News Publisher.
And this is the brunt of it, because the email continues:
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.
As far as I can tell, these terms are broadly acceptable, with the exception of Apple selling ads against third-party content. But it also sounds like Ash is understandably upset that he’s being opted into these legally-binding terms unless he opts out. It probably wouldn’t hold up in court, but that question being raised should ring some alarm bells.
Update: Kevin Ballard in the comments:
[U]pon re-reading it, it seems like the Terms they’re saying applies doesn’t actually really legally bind you to anything. It’s not like a normal EULA where you’re being granted a license. They’re saying that these are the terms under which they (Apple) will operate, and if you aren’t comfortable with them, you can opt-out.