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Apple tells authors: All your books iBook files are belong to us

But you can export them as PDFs if you want

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In a legal rewrite pushed out Friday, Apple has made its iBooks publishing agreement sound slightly less evil by clarifying just what you can do with the content you create on its iBook Author software.

Yes, all iBooks are locked to the iBook store but you can export those files as PDFs.

As The Reg pointed out at the time of the launch, any content put into one of Apple's whizzy new interactive iBooks has always remained the property of the author: that is the text, video and the images – but only when that content is unbundled from the iBooks format. Authors are welcome to export the content as a PDF or a text file and distribute it elsewhere. The new wording in section 2B of the End User Agreement License makes that slightly clearer:

You retain all your rights in the content of your works, and you may distribute such content by any means when it does not include files in the .ibooks format generated by iBooks Author.

But this stipulation holds:

(ii) if the work is provided for a fee (including as part of any subscription-based product or service) and includes files in the .ibooks format generated using iBooks Author, the work may only be distributed through Apple, and such distribution will be subject to a separate written agreement with Apple (or an Apple affiliate or subsidiary)

The deal still raises hackles though, not least because Apple takes a compulsory 30 per cent cut of any book's price as sold through its store.

Internet commenters have compared it to Adobe demanding a 30 per cent cut of any graphics or artwork made using Photoshop, or Microsoft getting a kickback every time you use Word or Powerpoint in a commercial situation. It's not how software usually works. But then, the iBooks Authoring software is free, which Photoshop and MS Office certainly aren't.

Another controversial piece of the user agreement still holds: Apple's right not to distribute your work if it doesn't like it. It's possible you could create a iBook that Apple then refuses to distribute in its store, the same way that it rejects certain apps. However, in that case you can still unbundle the elements of your work and sell or distribute them elsewhere. ®

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