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Apple backs down from Pulitzer putsch

Political toonist can 'resubmit'

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Updated Apple has invited Pultizer Prize–winning editorial cartoonist Mark Fiore to resubmit his NewsToons iPhone app that was rejected last December because it "ridicules public figures."

"I feel kind of guilty," Fiore told The Wall Street Journal, "I'm getting preferential treatment because I got the Pulitzer."

Well, Mark, that too. But perhaps the real reason an Apple rep gave you that conciliatory phone call was because Cupertino received an avalanche of bad press after Harvard University's Nieman Journalism Lab broke the news on Thursday that Apple had deemed your artistically expressed opinions in violation of its licensing-agreement ban on "offensive or defamatory content."

As The Reg also noted, this time Apple had gone too far:

  • Columbia Journalism Review: "The press has got to step back and think about the broad implications of this. It would never let the government have such power over its right to publish. It shouldn’t let any corporation have it, either."
  • The Washington Post: "Now that many news organizations use iPhone applications to publish their work, can Apple evict those programs if it doesn't like their content?"
  • Wired: "...the publishing world is now officially on notice that the iPad is Apple's, and unlike with their print and web editions, they don’t have the final say when it comes to their own content on an Apple device."
  • Barron's: "This is more than a little creepy...It's one thing for Apple to ban porn; but putting the kibosh on satire seems a little over the top, no?"

And that's just a sampling.

We can only hope that Apple has learned a lesson about freedom of expression - but, to be frank, no breath is being held here at Vulture Central. ®

Update

As of April 20, Mark Fiore's NewsToons became available on the iTunes App Store - after Steve Jobs admitted that excluding it was a "mistake."

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