EFF: Apple should stand up and defend its developers

In response to the Lodsys suits involving iOS developers using in-app purchasing via Apple’s iOS SDK, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has written an open letter to the iPhone maker, urging it so “stand up and defend” those developers.

The EFF has a long history of supporting the “little guy” and the public interest in legal battles surrounding technology and is doing the same here. In an open letter published today, the group discussed its concern of independent app developers being caught in the middle. These developers are using the tools supplied by Apple and can’t settle these suits, as it would break their contract with Apple, which itself has a license from Lodsys’ predecessor to use the patent pointed to in the lawsuits.

Here’s a section of the letter:

The law generally works to ensure that the party in the best position to address an issue bears the responsibility of handling that issue. In the copyright context, for example, the default assumption is that the copyright owners are best positioned to identify potential infringement. This is because, among other reasons, copyright owners know what content they own and which of their works have been licensed. Here, absent protection from Apple, developers hoping to avoid a legal dispute must investigate each of the technologies that Apple provides to make sure none of them is patent-infringing. For many small developers, this requirement, combined with a 30 percent fee to Apple, is an unacceptable cost. Even careful developers who hire lawyers to do full-scale patent searches on potential apps surely would not expect to investigate the technology that Apple provides. Instead, they would expect (with good reason) that Apple wouldn’t provide technologies in its App Store that open its developers up to liability – and/or would at least agree to defend them when a troll like Lodsys comes along.

I agree with the EFF and hope that Apple steps in to protect developers caught in a situation beyond their control — a situation made worse due to Apple’s own restrictions on said developers. I think the company should view this as an attack on its platform, not just its developers.

Article Via MacStories

Stephen Hackett, formerly a Lead Mac Genius at Apple, now spends his days running the IT department of a large non-profit in Memphis, TN. He writes about Apple, design and journalism at forkbombr.net. Like all twenty-somethings, you can find him… Full Bio