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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Fiore's iPhone app was recently rejected for being satirical. Apple prohibits apps that "ridicule" public figures.  (Source: Nieman Journalism Lab)

One of Fiore's prize-winning flash cartoons involved the White House party crashers from last year.  (Source: Nieman Journalism Lab)
Cartoonist remains hopeful that electronics giant will change its mind

There's no denying that Apple's iTunes and App Store revolutionized the fields of online media sales and smartphone application delivery, respectively.  However, for all the company's success, of late it has a baffling track record of trying to police the morality of the apps that go into its app store.

Initially Apple rejected any apps that overlapped with its functionality, any mature apps, and any other controversial app.  Occasionally a strange one (like "Baby Shaker") would slip through, but generally all these kinds of apps were prohibited.

Recently, Apple promised to improve the process facing complaints from frustrated developers.  And there are signs of that improvement -- Opera Mini, a rival browser, was just approved for the iPhone and numerous adult apps of violent cartoonish nature have been approved.  On the other hand, Apple still is banning mature apps of a sexual nature.

Particularly baffling, though, was the recent rejection of Mark Fiore's iPhone app.  Fiore this year received the distinction of becoming the first online-only journalist to win the Pulitzer prize.  Fiore used to make cartoons for print newspapers, but today runs his own syndication business dealing exclusively with flash cartoons.  He does about 8 cartoons a month, selling for around $300 per site, syndicated to multiple sites, including his main outlet, the SFGate, the website for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Looking to use the latest smartphone technology to grab more fans Fiore crafted a humorous iPhone app with highlights of his award winning, ground-breaking work.  He describes, "I think the iPads and anything iPod to iPhone — to maybe a product not made by Apple — will be good or could be good for distributing this kind of thing."

But there was one tiny problem.  Apple's developer agreement forbids content that "ridicules public figures".  Apple elaborates in its iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, "Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory."

On December 21, 2009 Mr. Fiore received the following email from Apple:

Dear Mr. Fiore,
Thank you for submitting NewsToons to the App Store. We’ve reviewed NewsToons and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it contains content that ridicules public figures and is in violation of Section 3.3.14 from the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement which states:
Applications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory.” Examples of such content have been attached for your reference.
If you believe that you can make the necessary changes so that NewsToons does not violate the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, we encourage you to do so and resubmit it for review.
Regards,
iPhone Developer Program

Apparently Apple found the cartoon of the White House gate crashers interrupting an Obama speech (among the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoons) to be offensive.  It attached that screen grab and several others, including a reference to torture, Balloon Boy, and various political issues.

Fiore remains hopeful that his app will eventually get let in.  Fellow cartoonists Tom Richmondand Daryl Cagle , were initially rejected [2] by Apple, only before eventually being allowed in [2].  Those turnarounds took months.

Fiore remains hopeful that Apple will eventually let him in.  He states, "They seem so much more innovative and smarter than that."

Updated: Monday April 19, 2010 8:55 a.m. -
After an outpouring of negative publicity, late Friday Apple contacted Fiore and encouraged him to resubmit the app, indicating that this time they would approve it.

Fiore, however, isn't entirely satisfied with the response.  He states, "I feel a little bit guilty because it feels like I am getting preferential treatment.  It seems like you need to raise a stink to get something political approved.  That's what makes me a little upset, if you are someone people haven't heard of and have an amazing satire app, you won't get this through."

He's willing to give the Cupertino giant a pass, though, saying that maybe they're just adjusting to their role as the world's largest smart phone app host.  He states, "Maybe this is just growing pains.  Hopefully, they will realize, 'Hey, I'm becoming part of the Fourth Estate'. They are becoming the delivery vehicle, and there are some responsibilities that come with that."


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Owned by Apple
By Urbanmech on 4/16/2010 10:06:05 AM , Rating: 0
It's Apple's store, they can choose what they carry, and what they dont. People seem to think they have some right to be listed on it. You dont.

If you dont like it, dont shop there.




RE: Owned by Apple
By bissimo on 4/16/2010 10:09:58 AM , Rating: 5
Exactly. It's not a free space like the internet. Let them police it all they want. It just makes the App Store and their products that much less appealing.


RE: Owned by Apple
By HotFoot on 4/16/2010 10:19:36 AM , Rating: 5
The problem is the pervasiveness of the iPhone. It's to the point where laypeople will see another kind of smart phone and call it an iPhone.

I don't view these devices as simple cell phones, but as hand-held computers. Given the market share the iPhone has, I think a lot of scrutiny should go into when Apple tells an application developer they can't publish software for the platform. I imagine MS would get a lot of heat if they were to, say, ban Mozilla from making applications for Windows. However, you could say it's MS's product and they can limit it any way they like. I don't think it's that simple.


RE: Owned by Apple
By chrnochime on 4/16/2010 2:38:24 PM , Rating: 2
Pervasive because people in the States are blessed with much older/crappier technology than compared to Asian Countries, most obvious being Japan.

I wish I wasn't stuck with this locked down POS, if only it wasn't my freakin' company phone.


RE: Owned by Apple
By reader1 on 4/16/10, Rating: -1
RE: Owned by Apple
By Adonlude on 4/16/2010 12:29:51 PM , Rating: 3
I think reader1's goal is simply to get the lowest overall rating possible. Nobody could really take the least popular position on every issue that comes up on Dailytech.


RE: Owned by Apple
By frobizzle on 4/16/2010 5:30:10 PM , Rating: 2
-0.22 average on his posts.

He still has room to devolve, shooting for that illustrious goal of -1 average!


RE: Owned by Apple
By B3an on 4/18/2010 4:30:52 AM , Rating: 2
I have suspicions of reader1 and the gang. I mean if i wanted to make people hate apple and it's isheeple as much as possible... i would post stuff like reader1.

...Or, he really could just be this stupid.


RE: Owned by Apple
By Yawgm0th on 4/16/2010 12:29:49 PM , Rating: 2
Obvious troll continues to be obvious.


RE: Owned by Apple
By themaster08 on 4/16/2010 4:13:33 PM , Rating: 4
Yet everyone flocks to reply to his ridiculous posts (myself included).

C'mon guys. Let's try to break the habit.


RE: Owned by Apple
By rocky12345 on 4/16/2010 12:43:55 PM , Rating: 2
the problem is when MS does it not only people will complain but gov's will also start probing into Microsofts affairs & tell them they are acting like a monopoly. I can see the EU getting on Microsofts back on this but leave Apple alone. Just a thought.


RE: Owned by Apple
By dav115 on 4/16/2010 12:46:54 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft have already followed "Apple's model" in the past by including their web browser with every operating system they sell (:0 the audacity!), but it didn't stop them getting fucked in the ass by the European Commission for being "too restrictive"...


RE: Owned by Apple
By mofo3k on 4/16/2010 10:15:43 AM , Rating: 5
Well, if Microsoft tried to block some random application from running on Windows then they would be paying out large sums of settlement money and facing penalties for it's monopolistic behavior. It might not be such an issue if Apple gave you the ability to install these applications without using their app store, but as it is you have to hack the phone to do that. If they want to play the morality game, they could very easily lose a lot of business to the Android Marketplace or some other competitor who isn't so picky.


RE: Owned by Apple
By JediJeb on 4/16/2010 12:26:31 PM , Rating: 2
That is the whole idea behind Free Market Capitalism, if a manufacturer is making something you don't like, ( here combined phone with app store) but someone else does, you are free to purchase the alternative. Until people stop whining for Apple to do what they the customer wants but settling when they don't, instead of opting for another vendor, then Apple will continue doing things as they always have.


RE: Owned by Apple
By NullSubroutine on 4/18/2010 1:37:31 PM , Rating: 2
And that is why we have monopoly protection (not saying it necessarily applies to Apple), because there is no such thing as a "free market". There will always be people using some sort of non-market practices to gain market share. You often have poorer products dominating better ones because market position, back room deals, or just plain illegal/unethical business practices.

I do think the free market is the way to go (considering all other systems), but because of human nature we need to have protections to make sure the market place is the decider not the above non-free market practices. For the record we really haven't had a true free market in the US, at least maybe since the 1800s. We have had Corporatism now morphing into economic Fascism.


RE: Owned by Apple
By bohrd on 4/16/2010 10:58:48 AM , Rating: 3
I think you are missing the point. Yes Apple has the right to police its own media. However, the problem I have with Apple is that what other ways are there to get apps/info onto the Iphone expect through their marketplace? Instead of owning the device Apple has decided instead to essentially lease it to you with extremely Draconian measures.

If they allowed a separate marketplace to be run on the Iphone at your own risk that would be extremely more agreeable. But in the current version of the Iphone (and most Apple products) you can't do this. It would be like buying a house and the old owners or your insurance company or the mortgage people saying you couldn't paint one of your walls a dark red but had to use the approved color of beige and only from Lowes. It's disturbing people are so willing to go along with something that is clearly violating your right to be an individual.

Maybe that's Apple's motto, "Be an individual, just like everyone else."


RE: Owned by Apple
By JediJeb on 4/16/2010 12:37:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Instead of owning the device Apple has decided instead to essentially lease it to you with extremely Draconian measures.


Don't sign the lease! Simple as that. Choose another phone.

quote:
It's disturbing people are so willing to go along with something that is clearly violating your right to be an individual.


Apple is not violating your right to be an individual, you have the right to choose another company.

quote:
It would be like buying a house and the old owners or your insurance company or the mortgage people saying you couldn't paint one of your walls a dark red but had to use the approved color of beige and only from Lowes.


People do this all the time when they buy a house in an area covered by a Home Owners Association. Simple remedy is not to buy a house in that area. You have the choice of where to purchase a house, you have the choice of what phone to purchase. If you choose to give up your freedoms so you can have the exact model you want, it is your choice, but don't complain afterwards about what you purchased because it was your choice. Before anyone buys an iPhone they have the responsibility to learn what the limitations are involved in making that purchase. Apple does not hide the fact that they control everything about the iPhone.

It seems so many people today just do not want to accept PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for their choices these days. Instead they want to blame everyone else for making poor decisions. Apple can do what they want with their products, nobody is forced to buy from them.


RE: Owned by Apple
By frobizzle on 4/16/2010 11:18:45 AM , Rating: 5
Let's call a spade a spade:
quote:
There's no denying that Apple's iTunes and App Store revolutionized the fields of online media sales and smartphone application delivery, respectively.

The only thing Apple has done here (and in other cases as well,) is censorship. And there is absolutely nothing revolutionary about censorship!


RE: Owned by Apple
By Motoman on 4/16/2010 11:57:35 AM , Rating: 1
That is 100% correct. No one, whether the publisher or the consumer, has any right to complain about what Apple does and doesn't decide to put in it's App Store, regardless of the reason they refuse it (or for no reason at all).

Welcome back to AOL circa 1990. Rampant consumerism and the overwhelming desire to conform have made the iPhone a runaway success. Enjoy your walled garden.


RE: Owned by Apple
By BloodSquirrel on 4/16/2010 3:18:32 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
No one, whether the publisher or the consumer, has any right to complain about what Apple does and doesn't decide to put in it's App Store, regardless of the reason they refuse it (or for no reason at all).


Wrong. People have the right to complain about anything Apple does, for any reason. If Steve Jobs saved a baby from a fire, I'd have the right to complain about it.

What they do not have the right to do is force Apple to change, but I haven't seen anybody argue that.


RE: Owned by Apple
By Motoman on 4/16/2010 9:57:18 PM , Rating: 2
I stand corrected. You have the right to complain about anything you want. What you don't have is any reason to believe anyone cares about what you're complaining about - or that anyone's going to do anything about it.


RE: Owned by Apple
By dark matter on 4/17/2010 5:01:59 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
What they do not have the right to do is force Apple to change, but I haven't seen anybody argue that.


What do you mean "don't have the right to force Apple to change". Of course they do. What is so special about this company that it is allowed to do whatever it pleases. I understand the adoration that a lot of posters on here have for Apple but its only a business at the end of the day and it has to operate within the regulations and laws imposed upon it by the government of the day, the government which you vote for. So don't be pathetic in saying people don't have a right to force Apple to change.


RE: Owned by Apple
By Motoman on 4/17/2010 12:12:41 PM , Rating: 3
No one has a "right" to force a company to change - aside from the government.

People can complain - it is of course your right to free speech to complain about whatever you want. However, citizens have no such authority as to FORCE any company to do anything at all.

...you're trying to imply that by being a democracy (republic), US citizens can indeed "force" a company to change. Good luck with that. Let's just sit back and wait for the referendum to show up on the next ballots labeled "Force Apple to let anyone sell stuff via their App Store that wants to, and force them to run Flash too. Oh, and force them to end their exclusivity agreement with AT&T and have the iPhone run on any and all cellular networks too."

...'cuz that'll happen.


RE: Owned by Apple
By cmdrdredd on 4/17/2010 5:30:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
No one has a "right" to force a company to change - aside from the government.


This leads to socialism. The Government should never interfere with business. If people like it let them buy it.


RE: Owned by Apple
By hashish2020 on 4/17/2010 7:02:02 PM , Rating: 1
Yes, you are 100% right. Companies should be allowed to dump PCB's in the Hudson, show hardcore sex in children's amusement parks and dump their sewage on the street. Otherwise, we would become the USSA!


RE: Owned by Apple
By Motoman on 4/17/2010 7:14:12 PM , Rating: 2
...wow. Absolutely unfettered business, with no regard for laws or regulations?

I just invented a new kids' toy - it's called "Bucket of Broken Glass and Antrax Spores." Nope, don't see any need for any laws or other government regulation of business.


RE: Owned by Apple
By Akrovah on 4/19/2010 7:11:52 PM , Rating: 2
What the other two said, plus the facts of history. During the industrial revolution when there was little to no gov. regulation on business we ended up with "Company Towns" where the people were paid in company dollars that were only good at company stores or for paying the rent of company owned housing. This basically locked them into only working for that one company without the ability to go anywhere else because they had no actual US currency.

I support a free market as much as possible, but total un-regulation leads to some downright horrible stuff.


RE: Owned by Apple
By rocky12345 on 4/16/2010 12:16:39 PM , Rating: 2
well that is both true & not true. Yes they have control of what they can or can not put on the store. But at the same time they have to look at what people want as well after it is the poeple that spend money on the store that makes Apple all that money.

I seems that Apple does nto even try to hard to give what people want or need. They decide what they think people want & not actually ask. If they have such a hard time with thngs like pron & stuff like that then put those type of apps in a different category with strong warnings of adult content etc etc. That way everyone gets what they want from the store. This works pretty much everywhere else for 99% of the other companies so why is Apple so far behind the times when it comes to things like this.


RE: Owned by Apple
By nafhan on 4/16/2010 12:18:28 PM , Rating: 2
Of course Apple can do what they want, but when those in power make arbitrary and seemingly random decisions that have real effects on people's lives, people tend to complain about it. They're saying Apple shouldn't, not Apple can't.


RE: Owned by Apple
By chunkymonster on 4/16/2010 1:24:41 PM , Rating: 2
Albeit the Apple Store is owned by Apple and they reserve the ability to decide what is "reasonable", banning apps for being too satirical is censorship. Slice it, dice it, or equivocate it anyway you want, this is what is this is, politically correct corporate sponsored censorship.

Any civil liberty loving, free-market supporting individual would and should not support Apple or purchase their products for reasons like this. I don't...but then again, I don't like drinking Kool-Aid.


RE: Owned by Apple
By adiposity on 4/16/2010 2:38:26 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
It's Apple's store, they can choose what they carry, and what they dont. People seem to think they have some right to be listed on it. You dont. If you dont like it, dont shop there.


This is a common argument on the internet, and it's a stupid one.

Vocalizing your complaints is always more effective than apathy. By making an issue of it, you are more likely to get Apple to change. Why should you just accept what a company is doing, when you can complain and encourage them to change?

I agree that not buying a product helps to send a message. However, that is not the limit to what you can do!

-Dan


RE: Owned by Apple
By adiposity on 4/16/2010 5:40:34 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
It's Apple's store, they can choose what they carry, and what they dont. People seem to think they have some right to be listed on it. You dont. If you dont like it, dont shop there.


Sorry, had to comment on this again. If you don't like that apple won't list your app, don't shop there? That hardly seems like a remedy for them not allowing you to sell your app.

You can't exactly go list your iPod app somewhere else, now, can you? And shopping elsewhere is not really related...


RE: Owned by Apple
By Reclaimer77 on 4/17/2010 9:51:23 AM , Rating: 3
Except I wonder if you or Apple would have the same tone if the cartoons were anti-Bush....

quote:
If you dont like it, dont shop there.


Yeah ! Go somewhere else for your apps !! Oh...wait. You can't.

Just another reason why I'll never buy Apple.


RE: Owned by Apple
By cmdrdredd on 4/17/2010 5:34:39 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Except I wonder if you or Apple would have the same tone if the cartoons were anti-Bush.... quote: If you dont like it, dont shop there. Yeah ! Go somewhere else for your apps !! Oh...wait. You can't. Just another reason why I'll never buy Apple.


Wow so true and exactly what i was thinking. The REAL reason this was pulled is because Apple is liberal and way, way, way left down to the core. This was a jab at the liberal administration in a light hearted way. They didn't like it because they pay out millions to liberals each year.

Anyway, I dumped my iPhone and now sport a DRIOD which does the same stuff and it actually works. Half the time my iPhone wouldn't work and it wasn't AT&T's network. It was the Phone just having a shitty reception.


RE: Owned by Apple
By cboath on 4/17/2010 10:00:13 AM , Rating: 4
Except you can't shop elsewhere.

It's not like walmart not carrying something so you just go down the street to Target.

By their own construct, you can ONLY shop through their own store. You can't just go elsewhere. In order to go elsewhere you have to pay for another phone or terminate your contract and go to another carrier for another phone. Neither is simpy 'shop elsewhere'.

People villify Microsoft over IE, even though you're totally free to go to another site and download another browser and set it to the default. Countries (and the EU) object that free choice there isn't free enough because those who don't know how to go to mozilla.com to download firefox are at a disadvantage (load of crap, but whatever).

Yet most don't seem to have a problem with Apple setting up a closed shop and not only being the morale's police, but also being judge, jury, and executioner.

They should be able to set technical spec's but not moralistic ones. You lose some of the 'you get to choose what to sell in your own store' when you set your store up as a defacto monopoly and apply your beliefs to everyone.

If I could simply download and install the app on my phone outside of Itunes, you'd have a point. The fact the you HAVE to go through apple and cannot go through anyone else means choice isn't involved in the process.

Not really different than if you lived in a city that banned everything but christian elevator music and told you can't watch any TV or listen to anything else. Just because you're free to move doesn't mean it's free enterprise, or legal.


RE: Owned by Apple
By DominionSeraph on 4/18/2010 5:59:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's Apple's store, they can choose what they carry, and what they dont.


This is true. However, there is a separate issue: advertising. Apple may have the right to police what is on their site, but their advertising cannot give a false impression. "There's an App for that," does, as it gives wide-ranging examples with no counter. Watching one of those commercials for the iPhone, a reasonable person would NOT expect that access would be denied to an app relating to Pulitzer prize-winning material.
If at some point they had said, "There isn't an app available for that because, while one was developed, we arbitrarily decide what apps we do and do not make available," then the illusion of app openness would have been properly broken. But they didn't. So Apple is open to litigation.

inb4 "factually accurate."
*sigh* @ retards


"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov














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