Apple Rejecting All E-Book Apps Due To Copyright Issues?

In recent weeks, Apple has gone through a moderate firestorm on its App Store, rejecting Google’s Google Voice application while at the same time pulling third-party Google Voice-based apps, thus leaving their developers to swallow refund costs that exceeded their initial per-sale earnings. Today, TUAW following up on a Daring Fireball story of a dictionary application being censored, has learned that Apple has begun rejecting all e-book submissions because “this category of applications is often used for the purpose of infringing upon third party rights. We have chosen to not publish this type of application to the App Store.”

At the same time, Apple has been rejecting applications from content providers who do in fact own the rights to their materials and can prove those rights. An anonymous source close to the story related that a project he developed for a national content syndicate was rejected without recourse.

Another source went on to cite that an e-book reader that had been developed received a recent rejection along the same lines. The application might be used to read copyright infringing books, so Apple will not let it in App Store. In an e-mail, he wrote, “Leaving aside the presumption of innocence, [what] about iTunes and iPod; shouldn’t they be banned too? After all many users indeed are using them to listen to the music that is not always legally obtained.”

Albeit it’s premature to assign motivations to Apple, the timing of these rejections couldn’t be worse, as Erica Sadun puts it. With Apple rumored to be entering the e-book market sometime in the winter, there’s scrutiny in the air over in Cupertino.

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