Great, I thought we put the problem of public RSS use in iPhone apps to rest after the Pulse Vs. New York Times issue  last month. If you’re not sure what happened at that time, here’s a brief run down. Apple showed off Pulse in their 2010 WWDC keynote. People noticed and began downloading the application. Apparently the New York Times noticed as well, and their RSS feed was one of those included in Pulse.

The RSS feed from the New York Times is publicly available on the internet free of charge. The New York Times sent legal letters to Apple indicating that Pulse violated their rights, and Apple took down Pulse. A short time later, Pulse returned to the App Store.

If that isn’t enough to blow your mind, Apple’s at the centre of the same debate today—they’ve rejected an application for using their own public RSS feed for movie trailers. Trailers has been denied.

Oh Hai, Look! I'm taking Apple's "Content"

As far as Apple’s concerned, a publicly available RSS feed isn’t free to be used in third party applications, at least, that’s the message they’re sending. It’s a little hypocritical considering Jobs himself showed off Pulse at WWDC doing exactly what they’re morally opposed to now—letting people compile public RSS feeds into a digital newspaper.

Sure, the developer agreement specifically mentions that developers cannot use Apple’s content without permission, but I’d like to point out the fact that Apple neither owns the rights to the trailers, nor do they have the right to determine who uses a publicly available RSS feed or how they use it. It’s a simple solution Apple, if you don’t want people using your RSS feeds, how about you just shut them off.

Here’s the real question—is there a difference between a person manually adding an RSS feed to an application and a company doing it as a convenience for their clients?  Anyone can see that Pulse, and in this case Trailers, is only a conduit for the information, and that they’re selling the conduit and not the information.  In the case of Trailers, they weren’t selling a thing since the application was going to be free.

Steve Jobs has even gone so far as to respond to the developer’s email inquires about the application’s denied access to the App Store.

Email From Jonah (The Developer)

Steve,

I did find this information out very late in the development process (close to release) and I was skeptical on the situation because there are many applications in the App Store that scrape iTunes/Apple feeds, including ones that have been featured in the App Store and in the top 10. There are even a few that use the same feed/API that I do. To name a few, Filmtrailers, iTrailers, and Trailers (also known as Trailers US)

Email From “Steve”

If ten guys rob a bank and don’t get caught, that isn’t much of a defense if you do.

Here’s my take. Apple’s position, and more specifically Jobs’ response, is a little hypercritical, heck, it’s hypocritical as well. They’re okay with apps that use other people’s public RSS feeds finding a home in the App Store, but when it comes to using their own publicly available RSS feeds, they slam down the banhammer.

I’m not in agreement with a large number of the anti-trust and anti-competitive investigations that are creeping up lately, but even I have to admit that these double standards are starting to become a little bit much.

If you want an application that lets you purchase movie tickets, view trailers, and lookup show times, you might want to check out MoviesNow. Apple’s approved them, at least for now.

Article Via MacStories