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Apple blasted over “opt-out” News app blogger contract

Apple is facing criticism over an email sent out to bloggers that assumes acceptance of terms and conditions.

The company has informed a number of bloggers that it intends to include their sites’ content in its recently announced News app, with the email in question reeling off a number of terms that will apply to those involved.

The controversy has been sparked because Apple applies the terms and conditions as part of an opt-out process.

This means that unless you explicitly say you don’t want to be part of the News app, it will be assumed that you accept all of the terms outlined in the email.

These terms include agreeing to the reproduction of your content, having advertising near your content without compensation to you, and indemnifying Apple if legal issues about your content arise.

Apple News

Unfortunately, this means that if a blogger misses the email, they could unwittingly be accepted into a programme that they otherwise may have declined.

While this might sound sinister, appropriating RSS Feeds for news aggregators is standard industry practice.

It’s also a common-sense move; attempting to manually sign up innumerable bloggers to the News app would be a long and painstaking process.

Despite being an accepted practice, Apple’s approach has not gone down well with everyone.

“Let me get this straight, Apple: you send me an email outlining the terms under which you will redistribute my content, and you will just assume that I agree to your terms unless I opt out?” tech blogger Mike Ash argued, in a post titled “I Do Not Agree To Your Terms”.

He continued: “Apple isn’t just taking my feed and displaying it. They’re shoving terms and conditions at me, and unilaterally assuming that I agree to them unless I take explicit steps to respond and say that I don’t.”

Related: iOS 9 vs Android M

Highlighting the other side of the argument, Graham Hann, head of technology, media and communications at law firm Taylor Wessing, shed light on the matter in a BBC report.

“The content of the notice is not unusual, although it has deliberately been dumbed down, possibly for clarity,” explained Hann. “However, the output approach is very unusual and I don’t see how the notice could form a binding contract without a positive reply.”

He continued: “Apple clearly wants to launch with as much content as possible and has taken this risk-based approach. Some publishers may object and even threaten to sue. However, I think it would be hard to claim damage beyond a reasonable royalty fee.”

Apple announced its News app at the company’s WWDC developer conference earlier this month.

The app will launch alongside the release of iOS 9 later this year.

If you’re considering buying an iPhone 6 in time for the iOS 9 launch, you might find our video review helpful:

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