Apple says no Project Gutenberg for iPhone because some old books are dirty

Apple has rejected Eucalyptus, an ebook reader that facilitates downloading public domain books from Project Gutenberg, because some Victorian books mention sex (many of these same books can be bought as ebooks through the iPhone Kindle reader or purchased as audiobooks from the iTunes store). It's amazing to think that in 2009 a phone manufacturer wants to dictate which literature its customers should be allowed to download and read on their devices.
Thank you for submitting Eucalyptus -- classic books, to go. to the App Store. We've reviewed Eucalyptus -- classic books, to go. and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it contains inappropriate sexual content and is in violation of Section 3.3.12 from the iPhone SDK Agreement which states:

"Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple's reasonable judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users."

Please view the attached screenshot for further information.

Remember, Apple is also petitioning the government to make it illegal to install any application on your phone that they haven't approved.

Whither Eucalyptus?

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  1. Cory:
    Don’t get me wrong, I am in the end for allowing people to use the gadgets they buy the way they see fit.

    On the other hand, on some levels Apple desires to create a product environment that can be trusted by parents for their children.

    Needless to say, this in reality will probably not have much impact on what unmonitored children gain access to through other media. Apple, no doubt, is aware of this, but they have the “optics” to deal with.

    In the end, I consider it distinctly possible that this move (combined with others) will end up making Apple more money than they would have had they become an open platform.

    If we thought Apple was much more than a money-making corporation, this should disabuse us of the notion.

  2. Censorship, pure and simple for commercial gain. As for blocking other content…if Microsoft had tried it, Bill Gate’s corpse would already be swinging from the gibbet.

    The nerve of these Apple types! Who the hell do they think they are? They make overpriced, underpowered pc’s and laptops and then because they give them away free to journalists they get all this great news coverage. What’s that all about. Blooming conspiracy. I don’t believe they would be able to hack alien computers either.

  3. Apple is not terribly different from, say, Disney. They want to completely and utterly define your experience for you. It’s just a different experience aimed at a different group of people. The people inside the Apple reality-distortion field don’t get the similarities with, say, Disney or religion because the core experience in those examples don’t appeal to them, but the same dynamics are at play.

  4. If all they cared about was ensuring that kids don’t look at dirty stuff, then:

    * They wouldn’t have included a web-browser on the phone that can access any pornsite on the net

    * They wouldn’t care about making it illegal for adults to choose to install software from third parties.

  5. Keeper, by that logic you may as well let Apple filter all the phone calls you can make, on the off-chance that your children might talk to someone sexy. Wait, maybe I shouldn’t have given them that idea.

  6. Also: they *sell the same books* through their own iTunes store, and you can also buy them through the Kindle store app they supply.

  7. Keeper, of course Apple is free to ban anything they like, just as BB is free to point out the rediculous, restrictive and hypocritical nature of this policy.

  8. Why not use the parental controls? ( http://u.nu/37w6 ) Sounds like something else is going on here. Maybe it’s money talking, or they’re afraid of a lawsuit. Wait… Apple afraid of a lawsuit?

  9. Ok, I think I need some explaining:

    My father bought an iPod Touch a few days ago (He wants to use it as a remote for his HiFi set.) and while setting it up and fiddling with it, I browsed the Appstore for a bit. And between being annoyed that you can’t even download a free programm without a credit card info, I also found a couple of applications that are, basically, porn. Or at least that fall squarely under the typical “erotic phone content”.

    Is this a regional difference (Like, is the Appstore US different from the Appstore Europe?) or is that just your basic corporate hypocrisy?

  10. I love that the tester seems to have typed the full title including translation details into the search box, though I expect that’s most likely the app generating a search term from a broader previous one.

    Nevertheless, it’s a search result – the app doesn’t come with the Kama Sutra (as I understand it from other reports). The tester searched for it and found it and that was grounds for the rejection. You have to wonder what their next search term would have been if the Kama Sutra hadn’t turned up… and the one after that, and the one after that, over and over until something prurient emerged from Gutenberg’s steamy vaults.

    I also seem to recall another app developer saying the best course of action is to simply resubmit the app and hope someone else is assigned to check it out.

    Still, kudos to Apple for maintaining such high personal standards. Now to check out today’s haul of new fart generators.

  11. Hmmm, “Stanza” another ebook reader app for the iPhone gives access to Project Guttenberg material too, and the very same Kama Sutra content.

  12. @subdian – before posting I loaded up Stanza, navigated to Gutenberg and searched for both kama and sutra, but didn’t get any results. How did you find it? I was wondering if the authors had filtered it out prior to submission or something similar…

  13. Well, iPhone OS 3 will include app store parental controls, so hopefully there’s an option for “Application may include adult content”.

    Hopefully someone also wises up, and does something similar to online videogames whose ESRB rating is out the window when you get into a multiplayer game with someone who uses as many different profane words as possibly every time you kill them.

  14. Selling the same books, I think fits in perfectly with the “controlled environment” theory: They can justify this by saying that paying for a book via credit card isn’t readily possible for children.

    As for browser access, you can of course use some of the parental controls and could reduce the rate at which teens access, say, human-animal porn.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Apple cares a LOT about controlling access to objectional content. In the end they most likely believe that this product differentiation (or perceived product differentiation) will lead to more $$$.

    In the end, I think people want to believe:

    Apple=Us
    Microsoft=Them

    In reality,
    Microsoft=Big money-making corporation with buggy products.
    Apple=Big money-making corporation with less buggy products.

  15. @#7, I’ve been wondering exactly the same thing. Has anyone asked Apple about this? Other than Trent Reznor, I mean. Btw not only does the free app “ereader” allow access to manybooks.net – which has a similar, if not quite as extensive, content as Gutenberg, it also disables screen rotation. This makes reading in bed much easier. Y’know, if Jane Austen gets you horny.

  16. Will they ban Safari as well? After all, you can use it to find sex/porn on the net, right?

  17. I’m somewhat astonished at the lack of Steve-bots explaining how this is all for our own good and a perfectly acceptable business practice and, say, did you catch the new Mac vs. PC ad?

    Maybe they’re still asleep.

  18. >>In reality,
    >>Microsoft=Big money-making corporation with >>buggy products.
    >>Apple=Big money-making corporation with less >>buggy products

    Nonsense. No Microsoft product I use can be considered ‘buggy’ beyond a random fault a couple of times a month most likely caused by 3rd party software or hardware. The cliche that Macs are more stable than Windows PCs is utterly baseless.

    Apple has every right to control their devices in this way. I don’t understand why people buy their stuff when this is the case. It’s a foreign idea to me to buy a product and then be forced to only run the software I’m ‘permitted’ to. There are better alternatives that don’t try to censor what the owner can do with them.

  19. BTW, can’t you download what you want from Project G. using the iPhone’s built-in web browser?

  20. @#10 3lbFlax

    In Stanza you can find it by searching for “Kamasutra” (one word), or by author. This same translation definitely available there.

  21. I’m sorry, but people who buy iPhones get what they deserve. Any company that thinks it’s right to “sell” a device and not give me full control over it (that’s “have your cake and eat it too”) will not be seeing any of my money. When I buy a device, it’s mine, period.

  22. That’s it; I’m throwing out my MacBook. Where can I buy a sweet, sweet Dell with a copy of Vista?

  23. @12

    Increasingly I feel the distinction is:

    Microsoft: Do anything you want but it might not work
    Apple: Do anything you want, provided we want it as well, if not that’s your fault not ours.
    Linux: Do anything you want, provided you can code it yourself.

  24. @19

    I think its even easier:

    Apple/Microsoft: Closed source, we are in control.

    Linux/Open Source: Open source, you are in control.

    But now its just the stuff that’s in between your computer and somebody else’s computers.

  25. Come on people! This is just a fake argument to not let free content compete with paid content?

  26. @18
    You do not have to throw it away. Just install Linux ;-)
    … oh … and hide the apple logo under a penguin sticker

  27. @15 Metostopheles – aha, running the words together (and not searching for substrings) fools the testers just like it fooled me. Why, there could be all manner of smut out there devoid of spaces.

  28. Perhaps it should be a parent’s job to not let their child use devices that may be portals to “objectionable” media.

  29. “…that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.”

    Odd..
    There are tons of apps that some people would find offensive.

    Why do you think they are putting a rating system in?

    To allow parents to control content that they either find offensive or think their children arent ready for.

    What about religious apps?
    Atheists might find them offensive.

    What about wobble, iGirl, iSexy, SlideHer or iFloat Pen.

    Some women (and men) might find them offensive.

    I love Apple, but they really need to get the app ESRB rating system up and get out of the censorship business. They look silly.

  30. All this does is support my theory that Apple is the new Disney. They could give a rat’s left testicle about the actual content, as long as they come off as ‘family’ friendly, so they get the big $$$.

    Disney gives off the big creepy vibes, Apple is nearing that neighborhood for me. I still have a soft spot for Apple because of my Apple II Plus, but that soft spot is hardening.

  31. @Keeper of the Lantern

    Of course they have the right to filter the content they distribute.

    But if they’re going filter out an app that allows you to download content for grown-ups, then they should be consistent and filter out *all* of the apps that allow you to download grown-up content, including Safari and iTunes.

  32. All the more reason to hope someone comes up with a better version of a phone with the Android OS.

  33. Maybe the ridiculous app censoring is just a phase. This is the kind of thing you can get away with only as long as you dominate the market, and even then for only so long as it takes nerd rage to gradually trickle down to the general population. I mean, hey, they un-DRMed the iTunes store, right?

  34. So the Safari browser on the phone should be removed then. This is ridiculous. Apple got burned on a baby shaker that doesn’t mean it needs to go off the deep end in censoring innocuous aps like this.

  35. @PHOOMP

    Yes, but Apple doesn’t regulate or sell the entire internet. They have a good amount of distance between themselves and the content generated. Also music is a regulated industry with it’s own censorship standards. Games may have ratings, but general applications still don’t. You could apply the same standards and enforce them, but that takes time effort and most of all money. The easier way out is to flat deny things you’d have to regulate.

    Apple is also solely responsible for the approval and distribution of their applications. If some make it through, they can remove it later when people point out their mistake (ala the baby shaking app). It’s a way to fight frivolous lawsuits, not just squelching competition. If something offensive is on the phone and scars little Timmy, they’re not going to go after the starving developer, they’ll want a bite of the Apple.

  36. I thought Apple was much more than a money-making corporation, I’ve been relieved of the notion.

  37. yep…Stanza downloads from Gutenberg and a bunch of other free ebook sites (fictionwise, manybooks, etc).

    I had no problems finding the Kama Sutra through Stanza, so I’d just put this down to Apple not really knowing how to implement their own policies.

    Mind you, now that we’ve mentioned Stanza in here it will probably get in trouble with Apple :(

  38. Yep, confirmed — the Kama Sutra is available through Stanza, an approved iPhone app. I downloaded it just now.

  39. Music is a regulated industry? Really? I think that would come as news to First Amendment scholars.

  40. When will Apple understand that I want to view porn on the iPhone? The screen is about the perfect size, and 3G makes porn available everywhere. One of the reasons I don’t get an iPhone is that I don’t need a private sector censor telling me what’s morally appropriate and what’s not. And all that ridiculous “protecting the children” speech is really absurd. It’s the parents jobs to educate their children, not Apple’s. Children are more inventive than idiotic corporations or restrictive parents, they will do whatever they want to anyway.

  41. It’s amazing to think that in 2009 a corporation wants to limit its liability and to appear family friendly by censoring a tiny fraction of what its customers are allowed to download and read on their devices. Whatever shall we do?

  42. @Cory Doctorow

    The input isn’t regulated, but the output sure is. Censored versions of songs are put out by record labels all the time. First amendment rights are trumped by ways to make sales or get radio airplay. Broadcast radio isn’t free speech and Wal-Mart has the right to deny what music they put on their shelves. The labels act accordingly. This isn’t a government issue, it’s a corporate one. The company in charge of the music has every right to say what their customers can and can not listen to.

  43. This probably has more to do with Apple worrying about their products being associated with any activities that potentially litigious moral majority types might get their knickers in a twist about, right?

    heh. I said knickers. Good luck reading this post off an iphone.

  44. Porn seems to be a driver of technology (cf. home video cameras and recorders, polaroid cameras, photography, the Internet for frick’s sake) or at least a reason why some devices go into widespread use rapidly.

    In the long run, can any manufacturer stand in the way of the inevitable tsunami of porn consumers?

    Probably not a lot of demand for public domain porn text specifically, but censorship makes a device effectively broken, and there will always be workarounds to fix it.

  45. It’s amazing to think that in 2009 a phone manufacturer wants to dictate which literature its customers should be allowed to download and read on their devices.

    Exactly. And, if Apple wants to be consistent in their asinine policies, they should also prohibit the use of a web browser on their phone (because there’s *porn* on the interwebs, believe it or not), and the phone shouldn’t be allowed to dial those 1-900 sex-line numbers either.

    Way to go, Apple- you win the 2009 DumbAss Award.

    Mike

  46. By this logic, Apple should probably ban its own Safari browser and email app, since it’s pretty easy to find porn with the browser, and goodness knows if you have an email account the porn finds you.

    I’m not in favor of censorship. If Apple decides to censor applications, I think they need to have better rules. There is a big difference between an application that is pornographic and one that simply allows access to a range of content some of which may be offensive. There is a bright-line test for the first category, but when you start encroaching on the latter, you start down a slippery slope that ends up with absurd results like this, where access to vast quantities of unoffensive, educational material is blocked.

  47. Yet another reason not to buy Apple products. Which is a shame, really, because they are beautifully designed, elegant objects that I admire very much.

  48. You have mistaken the market for regulation. There are no regulations — save copyright and libel — about what music may be recorded. Wal*Mart is not a regulator. The RIAA is not a regulator (nor is being recorded by an RIAA member-company a prerequisite for inclusion in the iTunes store).

    The FCC *is* a regulator, but they don’t regulate music, they regulate *airplay*. Given the declining role of radio in music promotion, that’s not all that important to discussions of music in general.

    And when it comes to the iTunes store in particular, it is almost totally irrelevant. There are a couple million tracks in the iTunes store — what percentage of them, do you suppose, has been played on any FCC-regulated broadcaster in the past 24 months? I’ll donate $100 to Creative Commons if you can show that it was more than 15%.

  49. Broadcast radio isn’t free speech and Wal-Mart has the right to deny what music they put on their shelves. The labels act accordingly. This isn’t a government issue, it’s a corporate one. The company in charge of the music has every right to say what their customers can and can not listen to.

    First of all, how is FCC “indecency” enforcement for broadcast radio not a government issue?

    In fact, that the FCC continues to exist to sell monopolies on particular frequencies of light, when cognitive radio long since made the need for such “licensing” obsolete, only only to serve regulatory capture by the NAB. (Open spectrum would make broadcast radio Free Speech.)

    Secondly, don’t like the Bawlderized music Wal-Mart sells? Buy from Amazon or CDnow or any of the other thousands of competing vendors of music.

    This is why companies must compete to serve varying consumer demands. If one retailer won’t meet your particular needs, find another one who does. I’m sure some entrepreneur will create a retailer that specifically caters to what Walmart won’t offer you.

  50. Wait, the PMRC wasn’t a regulatory agency or group? What about all those stickers? Do you mean I’ve spent much of my life hating Tipper Gore for nothing? AAAARRRGH, what a waste of good hatred!

  51. Just to clarify, I suppose it would be possible to fall afoul of a trademark or a trade secret with music, too. And there’s an extreme outside possibility that your song might be found obscene, though that’s pretty remote. Can anyone name a song that was successfully censored under obscenity laws?

  52. That’s right, the PMRC is not a regulator. They are a pressure group. UL is not a regulator, nor is the WiFi Consortium, nor is any other group that licenses its trademark for use in connection with a labelling scheme.

  53. I propose equipping all children with goggles covered with remotely-operated shutters. When a parent apprehensively notes that their angel may see a bosom unclad, the shutters close and their delicate cherub will see only a fluffy bunny, organically fed of course, playing with a declawed and neutered kitten.

    Perhaps a remotely controlled pneumatic hypodermic injector so the guardians of the good can inject their darling presents to the future with whatever drug their school recommends this year.

    And I’d invest in a safe room for their home, because if I were their kid I’d come looking for them some day after I grew up and found out what a helpless, uneducated little twit they had had raised me to be.

  54. Hmm. A philosophical comment here…

    By buying a DRMd mainstream device you are approving the moral code/ethics of an organisation who have determined what is appropriate for you to choose to read.

    It is one of the reasons I still like books and book stores… particularly second hand book stores.

  55. Apple is just following a gut feel as to whether it can be sued for providing access to adult content to children.

    It cannot be sued for providing such content via a browser because it cannot reasonably filter all internet content.

    It could be sued for providing a adult-only application.

    Everything else lies in some grey area, the less content (the more bound an application is to a particular set of content) the more a prosecutor could say it would be reasonable to screen that content.

    All of this goes away when the iPhone supports parental controls, then even adult-only applications will be ok, they will not expose Apple to legal liability.

  56. And oh, yes. If I buy a machine, I do what I want with it. You want to control it, don’t sell it. FU Apple! -and that’s pretty amazing coming from me.

    People always go on about government, but absolute hell comes from corporate control. They answer to no bill of rights or governent. And they will soon control the books we read electronically, and be able to casually keep tabs on everyone’s reading habits. Lovely.

  57. Well, if songs were included in another medium that had been censored, that would raise the bar a bit. So the songs in Joyce’s Ulysses, some of which, like “The Ballad of Joking Jesus,” are a bit obscene, was “censored” by having appeared in a censored novel.

    Didn’t the 2 Live Crew get censored back in the good old days? “The first legally obscene” album or something?

  58. Apple should stop selling iPhoto at once! I’ve just checked my library and some of the photos it contains are shocking if not disgusting (note to self: lose weight).

  59. Sigh. I guess that means they’re going to pull Safari next. At least after they see the pictures I’ve got to show them.

  60. The bottom line issue, and as a shareholder it concerns me, is that Apple is shooting itself in the foot! The inconsistency in app reviews and this completely unwarranted rejection of an ebook reader simply gives Apple and the App Store more bad publicity!

    It fuels the big-bad Apple line–in fact, the irony is that Apple is coming off as the very Big Brother they mocked in the original 1984 Macintosh ad!

    I hope that Eucalyptus becomes a big hit as a result. Lots more people will have learned about the Kamasutra as a result of Apple’s heavy hand! (no pun intended!)

    P.S. By the way, your captcha service is really poor… those grey numbers and letters are too hard for humans to process.

  61. I can’t think of one off the top of my head. And I guess the opposite can apply as well. NWA’s “Fuck the Police” made “Straight Outta’ Compton” double platinum due to the censorship controversy that surrounded it. They were still banned from performing several venues and got nasty letters from all kinds of government authorities.

  62. #5: We can make a law forbidding e-book reader manufacturers from controlling which books we wish to read. It is not up to them unless we have internalized the insane notion that corporations can do whatever they like.

    And we’d better do it soon, before the damned meme (we made it, we control it, fu serfs) sets in mass market mental concrete.

  63. And neither was successfully censored. Both are legally available — you can get them for $0.99 each in the Amazon store, and I’d guess that they’re available in the iTunes Store too.

  64. @Zuzu
    @Cory

    But should the government force Apple to allow all applications to protect the developer’s right to free speech and move the liability out of their hands? Should Apple have any responsibilty for what they release and what’s the best way to enforce that responsibility?

    I agree with a lot of this. Competition from other devices should spur some change, and hopefully public opinion will do enough wallet and image damage to make Apple take notice.

    … And actually a donation to Creative Commons sounds like a great idea right about now.

  65. Any blog that bitches about Apple’s restricting content needs to ask themselves if they were one of the people who were flogging the “baby shaker app” story when it was on the App Store for a few minutes after Apple relaxed its app screening process. Oh, hey, guess what? (By the way, NIN’s app is available now.)

  66. I didn’t suggest that the government should force Apple to accept applications — just that the government shouldn’t offer its courts and judicial system to help Apple enforce its ban on third-party code.

    Apple is seeking a special privilege: the right to use the state to force product owners to give up their property rights in order to help Apple preserve its business model.

    The state has better things to do with its energies, and given that the state represents the people, it also has a duty to stay away from giving out privileges that let companies magnify their power over the people.

  67. @Cory

    Give me two of that.

    If we could balance the litigiousness that makes these stonewalls so easy to excuse, I think that would go a long way stopping these practices as well.

  68. I don’t know why (especially in USA) the crusade against this kind of nude bodies. At least they’re alive (and seems enjoying) not like TV news ones with bullets on their heads.

    Apple says:
    “Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind ….”

    I say:
    Well, offensive are those farty apps and Apple’s greed.

  69. Well, iPhone OS 3 will include app store parental controls, so hopefully there’s an option for “Application may include adult content”. Hopefully someone also wises up, and does something similar to online videogames whose ESRB rating is out the window when you get into a multiplayer game with someone who uses as many different profane words as possibly every time you kill them.

    This whole ratings thing has gotten completely nuts!

    The world isn’t kid-safe, and adults shouldn’t suffer because a minority of parents can’t be bothered to actually parent (which means explaining the world to children, not shielding them from it). (Yes, little Billy, people have sex, and people kill each other, and your government even electrocutes the testicles of people it doesn’t like.)

    I grew up with unrated video games. Hell, I even bypassed that quiz in Leisure Suit Larry when I was maybe 9 years old and playing all of those Sierra _____ Quest games.

    I also watched “rated R” films such as RoboCop and Total Recall at that age, and I’ve always had a pretty firm grasp on differentiating reality and fantasy (reading some PKD not withstanding).

    I’ve also had unfiltered unmetered and unsupervised Internet access my entire life, and frankly children are far far smarter about understanding new technology than their parents ever will be. Parents don’t have a chance in hell of ever regulating their children’s Internet usage.

    Besides, infantilizing children handicaps them to becoming childish adults — and we have plenty of those already to prove it. Every minor annoyance or not getting their way is perceived by them as some grave personal injury that they cannot abide.

    I’ve opposed censorware, and I resent how willingly people are embracing “parental controls” for the iPhone. (The ESRB for video games and the “V-chip” for television were already outrageously ridiculous enough!)

    (I haven’t seen the Internet community act this foolishly in supporting something they “should know” is bad, since the CAN-SPAM Act — “government shouldn’t regulate the Internet at all… except for spam!” It’s madness!)

  70. That would be bowdlerized, Zuzu: a, not o, lowercased, not capitalized. It’s on the Wikipedia machine.

    Thanks. I even did a quick google before posting, but I suppose too many other people have misspelled it as well.

    I didn’t suggest that the government should force Apple to accept applications — just that the government shouldn’t offer its courts and judicial system to help Apple enforce its ban on third-party code. Apple is seeking a special privilege: the right to use the state to force product owners to give up their property rights in order to help Apple preserve its business model.

    Well said, Cory. Let’s not lose sight of the property rights issue: that you own your iPhone and may modify it in any manner that you choose. If jailbreaking makes Apple’s business model untenable (and they didn’t even want 3rd party apps until hackers created jailbreaking!), then it is Apple that must adapt to the changing market landscape. (That’s what business is for!)

    There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.

    — Robert A. Heinlein, Life Line

  71. god forbid that children might know sex exists, like they used to.

    when did they start trying to pretend that things like sex simply don’t happen at all to people under 18?

  72. You know what the solution is? Throw away your iPhone, go to the library, read actual books. Don’t depend on for-profit corporations for your enlightenment. I get the outrage over this, for sure, but as Lisa Simpson and Paul Anka suggested years ago, “just don’t look” and the greedy, stupid corporate overlords trashing our culture will loose their relevance.

  73. Throw away your iPhone, go to the library, read actual books. Don’t depend on for-profit corporations for your enlightenment.

    But only read the 3 books that weren’t published by for-profit publishers!
    (2 of them are Bibles.)

    p.s. There’s nothing inauthentic about electronic books. Are telephone conversations and family picture albums also not “real” to you?

  74. I watched all the Friday the 13th movies at a friend’s house when I was about 8. One of those scenarios where older siblings have the stuff around and the littler ones end up seeing it. Anyway, for almost 20 years after that, I carried around these really irrational fears about undead serial killers reaching up from under the bed to slice my head off.

    My parents worked all the time. They couldn’t protect me from all the violent material out there in the media even if they’d wanted to.
    Isn’t it reasonable for a society to collectively consider what images are fully accessible to small children? Parents are supposed to protect their children, and the society should do what it can to protect kids, too, no?

  75. Project Gutenberg is a cultural treasure. Apple should realize that access to it raises the value of their product. Also, it takes a kid of some imagination to grab the Kama Sutra. A precocious appreciation of literary erotica seems quite benign in this age. They might learn something useful.

    If you’ve jailbroken your iphone, you could have iSutra. Shake it, and it gives you a new random position. Illustrated.

  76. Isn’t it reasonable for a society to collectively consider what images are fully accessible to small children? Parents are supposed to protect their children, and the society should do what it can to protect kids, too, no?

    “They are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours.” — Maggie

    Also, it takes a kid of some imagination to grab the Kama Sutra. A precocious appreciation of literary erotica seems quite benign in this age. They might learn something useful.

    “Suburban 7th graders have more sexual experience than you.” — Jack Donaghy, 30 Rock

  77. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t really have anything to do with obscene content. Stanza and other e-reader apps for the iPhone are already freely available and have been for years. Stanza directly links to Project Gutenberg. This entire thing smells of app competition.

  78. Someone should make a website that lists all the companies and products that engage in censorship, DRM use, etc. so we know which companies not to support.

  79. #74, of course it is. I think this has more to do with Apple outsourcing the AppStore to some south asian overseas sweat shop, and cultural values.

    – App approvals at 3am? WTF?

    – Response only by email and mostly by template. Sometimes devoid of context.

    – The ‘reviewer’ went out of their way to search for Kama Sutra when there are many other incendiary books on Gutenburg like Catcher in the Rye, etc. I’m sure it’s a personal or cultural affront to the same reviewer.

    The fact that this broken appstore approval system has been in place and running for so long brings back a pattern from personal experience… I was on such a project, and could ONLY USE offshore assets to complete it. Because they costed 1/5 of the cost of using anyone in the US or EU, we were forced to use them for 2 cycles.

    I’m sure that Apple is ‘investing’ offshore, and that they consider the cost v. revenue too good of a deal to let go of, no matter how bad/inconsistent/freaky the experience is for developers.

    Pursuant with the way Silicon Valley works, only a strong dose of public shame in the press will get APPL or any other software company to change their ways.

  80. I just find it hard to believe that THAT many very young kids have iPhones. If parents can afford to buy their kids iPhones and their associated plans, they can afford the therapy that reading the Kama Sutra might necessitate.

  81. I like to imagine the App Store Censors as Puritans: shining the buckles on their hats in between Denial Sessions and group readings from “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”.

  82. The Kama Sutra is far tamer than the Bible, and far more obscure and obtuse in its “coding” of sex. Is the woman in question “deer” or “elephant” in nature? Gee, that’s sexy!

    I don’t recall any place in the Kama Sutra talking about incest, but the Bible does talk about Lot getting it on with both his daughters and having kids by them. The Bible is far more pornographic in all the worst and violent ways than the Kama Sutra.

    And you can use Safari to get to the same documents on an iPhone, so the whole rejection is specious, fallacious and probably legally actionable against Apple, IMO. And I’m a Mac fan-boy!

  83. If a kid is sophisticated enough to be aware of the Kama Sutra, then said kid is mature enough to read it if he or she wishes. Kids looking up “bad words” or “naughty pictures” would not be interested in anything that can’t be completely absorbed in 5 seconds. Censorship is based on fallacious reasoning, and merely gives kids a means of shocking “adult” sensibilities, and should not be part of civilized society.

  84. @ Zuzu/#83: I didn’t say e-books weren’t “real” or that books aren’t published by for-profit corporations, I was simply suggesting an alternative to being subjected to subsequent multiple layers of corporate/tech filters to access information.

  85. Someone should make a website that lists all the companies and products that engage in censorship, DRM use, etc. so we know which companies not to support.

    Everything is so deeply intertwingled that you’d end up Amish if you stuck to those principles.

    Better to hack, reverse-engineer, jailbreak, open-source, and otherwise reclaim control of your property. You’ll acquire very significant skills and tools along the way.

    Pursuant with the way Silicon Valley works, only a strong dose of public shame in the press will get APPL or any other software company to change their ways.

    By which you mean public shaming of politicians who pass laws taxing offshore income? Because doing so has caused a permanent outflow of USD into other currency zones; thereby making the USD artificially more scarce in the USA than it actually is on Earth? As well as weakening the competitiveness of domestic knowledge workers (or willingness to spend “foreign” money on them).

    From Chapter 59 “Hoard” of Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon:

    That money is not worth having if you can’t spend it. That certain people have a lot of money that they badly want to spend. And that if we can give them a way to spend it, through the Crypt, that these people will be very happy, and conversely that if we screw up they will be very sad, and that whether they are happy or sad they will be eager to share these emotions with us, the shareholders and management team of Epiphyte Corp.

  86. Once again, I find myself saying to Apple (in the immortal words of former VP Dick Cheney), ‘Go fuck yourself.’

  87. I’ve been annoyed by apple’s iphone store policies and the need to jailbreak, but considered it tolerable. This has now reached a point where I will never buy or recommend buying apple products again. This entire view, that they have some responsibility and control over what I do with MY equipment is wrong-headed, jeopardizes common-carrier style logic and is just totalitarian bullshit. I’m done with Apple. Even _after_ they reverse themselves on this, and they will. Companies have to be punished for anti-liberty anti-freedom stances, and that can only happen by boycott.

  88. I easily downloaded Kama Sutra today via a link in e-reader.

    Apple needs to, and will, get this policy fixed.

  89. @102 Zuzu, no with all due respect I do not mean “By which you mean public shaming of politicians who pass laws taxing offshore income? ”

    I mean the shaming of MBAs, who, by commodifying the software industry jobs and so-called ‘automation’ have made computing a less-fun, 3rd world race to the bottom that it has become, filled with buggy software, junk apps and corporate shovelware.

    You don’t have computer scientists, you have offshore call [del] [del] [del] [del] dev centers where every application is just mediocre donkey work, that would most likely fail a 1st year programming class. But that doesn’t matter to the MBAs who see profit margin and little else. Proliferation of bugs, anyone? Take a look at http://adobegripes.tumblr.com/ for some truly thunderously stupid programming mistakes if you don’t believe me.

    Apple has joined this same tired model as MSFT and Adobe. They didn’t need to, but I guess all software companies aspire to grow up to be GOOG & MSFT: bloated, inhumane, and mediocre. Or maybe that’s what comes to pass when execs leave those companies for APPL.

    The only thing that works on companies like this is shame; if a story picks up enough critical mass then the Wall St. analysts, always looking for a story so they can naked short sell a company, whack the stock price down and force the execs to ‘address the issue’.

    Apple’s execs, in the absence of SJobs need to do two things now: 1/ work on fixing their defective internal systems, and 2/ please shut up about things they know not of.

    SJobs is the master of silence and the velvet glove. His proteges would do well to follow his example.

  90. I am still deciding which smart phone to buy this upcoming June. When I read things like this I realize that:

    1. if I buy a gadget. I can consider it MY gadget. Otherwise I am just renting it and for a big ammount of money then I rather not.

    2. I’d like to customize the gadget. If I choose to read books that happen to have the word “SEX” in it, then I should be able to do so. Apple is BIG Brother here and I refuse to let a company filter what I can or can’t read on a gadget that I paid for. Otherwise, don’t sell it to the public and keep it for your employees or friends in your sterilized environment.

    3. they did something like this to NIN’s app. and now they’re banning books. Next thing will be an automated “blip” engine that will blip any swear word so that the iphone’s precious microphone doesn’t get contaminated with foul language.

    I guess I am making my mind about the phone I want, and it doesn’t have a pomaceous fruit in it.

  91. lOOK OUT! IT’S SEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  92. @Mister N #107:

    2. But that’s the nature of the tech industry now. After the layoffs, the ‘privileged few’, with the title ‘program manager’ or ‘head of user experience’ sit in their walled gardens, insulated from the practicality of the outside world, coming up with more junk like haptic touchpads, Flash, Google Adsense & Facebook. Byzantine, almost unusable “systems” that make oldsters like me wince in pain. It’s ‘not invented here’ on steroids. It’s working on cancer. Not the cure.

    There are no more dissenting voices for the end user from testing or support because those have been farmed off to China and India. Add to the fact that now even Dev is there as well, and all you have left is the sterile groupthink of the MBAs. The magic, if there ever was any, is gone.

    3. Apple has for awhile, and does this by ‘auto-correcting’ and not allowing profanity when you type your SMS’s ‘Duck’ off, bull sit, etc.

    It takes a special type of sterile, isolated control freak, with their supercheap offshore ditchdiggers to come up with convoluted systems like the stock iPhone, Vista, and DRM in general.

  93. All I can say is thank God that Apple is taking a moral stand, and doing their part by refusing to let smut propagate thru the App Store.

    I applaud the discerning application of their policy, by blocking access to salascious texts of so-called “classic literature”, while ensuring that our children have full access to wholesome and artistic content such as Wobble, Suicide Girls, Bikini Fart and other masterpieces of modern decency and good taste.

    I need to get back to my game of Urinal Test.

  94. commodifying the software industry jobs and so-called ‘automation’ have made computing a less-fun, 3rd world race to the bottom that it has become, filled with buggy software, junk apps and corporate shovelware.

    True that. It’s like no one’s read The Mythical Man-Month.

    The other side of the problem is that traditional Computer Science, with its myopic emphasis on Scientific Computing, almost entirely supports this “economy of scale” fallacy of software engineering.

    The Internet is the perfect counter-example of the right way to create large-scale software. (Namely, distributed and fault-tolerant.) Yet, the Actor model and asynchronous message-passing concurrency remains relatively fringe within Computer Science academics (often synonymous with von Neumann architecture), except for TCP/IP of course.

  95. C’mon guys… it’s Project Gutenberg. GutTenberg is a whole ‘nother thing. Project Guttenberg is too terrifying to contemplate. And it’s fitting that the capta image for this comment is “moore anus”

  96. Hey Apple – did you know that there is actually dirty stuff on the Internet, too? Maybe you should block any browser from the iPhone that displays anything other than the Apple website.

    This is where I draw the line, though. I already was unhappy with the whole ‘vendor lock in’ thing of Apple, but my next MP3 player will not be iPod or iPhone, but some more open alternative. I love American, I really do, but their total and all-encompassing obsession with sex is just too annoying.

  97. Y’know, the state of computing today makes me think of circa 1995 when everybody and their dog had to have an e-mail account NOW! Thing is I would not do computer tech support nowadays to save my life. People think everything with a plug or LED screen is a computer. What the hell is an .asr file and how do you get to Twitter.com?

  98. People think everything with a plug or LED screen is a computer.

    Because more and more “appliances” really are just computers.
    Microprocessors are now really that cheap, and it makes development easier — especially with support later on.

    Your Xbox360 or Playstation3: computers.
    Your DVD or Blu-Ray player: computers.

    Your iPod: computer.
    Your AppleTV: computer.

    Your smartphone: computer.
    Your WiFi router: computer.

    The trouble has been electronics manufacturers who actually spend resources trying to keep people out of the “computer” nature of their embedded devices.

    I can presume this has more to do with a dread of reverse-engineering by competitors, but why not instead put those resources to making improved future products?

    (I’ll wager too many middle-managers in electronics firms are feeling “we have to protect ourselves!” without analyzing the costs of doing so. Does the firm actually save money by building these barriers? Retailers understand this better; that it’s less costly to allow some shoplifting than to hire more guards to prevent that inventory shrinkage.)

    Anyway, what hackers and DIY and even just regular end-users are upset about are those artificial barriers and controls added to their property that they do not want.

    Removing RPC-2 region controls from the firmware of DVD drives springs to mind. (How many region-free DVD players have been sold because customers demand this?)

    c.f. Sources of Innovation by Eric Von Hippel.

  99. Von Hippel, eh? Well it seems to me that just because you can flip up a phone, that doesn’t mean you can take it apart. Now how do you disinstall the OS after that, and who is going to support it when you get a new?

  100. I have been reading boingboing for years but only decided to get an account now so I may add my comment regarding this absolutely preposterous action by apple.

    APPLE: get real, real and real.

  101. Yet I’m sure one can find scads of Bible, Torah and Koran related apps.

    You know, those monotheistic desert war cult books full of praises for bloodlust, revenge killing, the abuse of slaves, rules for when it’s okay to rape/beat/kill your wife/lover/child/concubine. And don’t forget the glorious Proverbs and Psalms talking about men with donkey cocks, cumming like horses.

  102. I don’t think this is censorship so much as further evidence that Apple’s app approval process is completely out of control… my guess is they’re doing everything they can just to keep the train on the rails over there, and some reviewers happen to be applying arbitrary tests to submitted apps while others are not (hence, some e-book readers have been approved despite having access to the same information). I mean, come on… can you think of a more obvious and arbitrary test than “Kama Sutra?” Clearly app developers just need to make sure to block that phrase specifically, and they’ll be good to go. How many resources do you think Apple actually has to sit down and pore over these apps?

    The funny bit is that Apple has always had such an air of hippiedom about it, and yet they’re showing themselves to be the most puritanical and conservative company in their industry.

    Your slogan, “Think Different,” has been rejected for the following reason: Thinking is dangerous, and may lead to offensive thoughts or ideas. Please remove all thought from your slogan and resubmit.

  103. The Kama Sutra is neither obscene nor pornographic according to long established legal precedents in the US and european community member nations.

    To be pornographic or obscene, something must have no redeeming artistic, literary or scientific interests and must appeal solely to prurient interests.

  104. I don’t get it. Even if you want to project your children from pornographic material you should bless the day that your kid picks up a book instead of a video game.

    G

  105. Guess Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a little too much for the iGeeks to handle. And here we thought Apple was the progressive computer company.

  106. This might have been said before, I didn’t read all the comments but by apples logic wouldn’t safari have to be removed as it can display sexually graphic content.

  107. Bet that was just a quickie mistake by some n00b at Apple processing applications. Given that they offer a Kindle app, there was clear precedent. (I remember my first week at A&E Programming, I sent form rejection letters for loads of very interesting proposals by well-regarded producers for programs on fascinating subjects because…oh, I didn’t like their fonts.)

    BTW – “some old books are dirty” = hilarious.

    Back to reading Proust’s Sodom & Gomorrah…

  108. @Dculberson – “the app store requires a credit card, so there goes that argument.”

    or a paypal account, for the win.

  109. There is the Kindle for the iPhone app, which is free, which allows you to download Gutenberg books.

  110. stanza is another (free) e-book reader that facilitates using Gutenberg.

    FYI – the linked page is a 404.

  111. Hey apple – create an age verified iPhone APP store. I think you guys could come up with the technology – after all you want to regulate behavior – or at least your good name.

  112. Apple has overlooked that we can read the Marquis de Sade via Stanza. It happens to be in French. I guess the French can get away with reading books with sexual content on the iPhone. Perhaps our children will start learning French so that they can have access to censored books and learn about sex. Are we moving back into the Dark Ages via modern technology, or was that iPhone app review geek fired for his blunder?? Of course, the truth is probably in the $$$$.

  113. All one has to do in download the Bing App to bring up all kinds of porn. Why do they approve search apps when they clearly don’t comply with the terms? I think this is just Apple’s may of controling the market. If Android takes off, they will not be so bold. My thoughts –

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