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Tutorials, musings on programming and ePublishing

Amazon Axes Delicious Library for iPhone

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So Amazon recently changed the terms of service for their Product Advertising API, which is in use in applications such as Delicious Library. This is (I believe) the API by which DL gets its book information, and through which it provides links to related items, reviews, etc.

The new license includes this marvelous little tidbit in section 4e:

You will not, without our express prior written approval requested via this link, use any Product Advertising Content on or in connection with any site or application designed or intended for use with a mobile phone or other handheld device.

Wil attempted to contact them through the supplied link to get permission to keep Delicious Library on the store, but was knocked back— they're not making any exceptions right now at all, for anyone. One wonders what the purpose of the link is, in that case?

So, Wil has had to remove Delicious Library for iPhone — which was in production for eight months straight — from the App Store due to a change in licensing conditions. Until Amazon removes this clause or actually does allow exceptions (as opposed to simply claiming to do so for marketing/legal ass-covering purposes) there will be NO Delicious Library for iPhone. At all.

Which kinda really sucks. You know, like, a lot. Because not only is it a great app in and of itself, it was written by the guy who inspired a lot of the indie developers on the Mac scene today to enter that scene, and who is arguably one of the best (and certainly most accomplished) Mac developers in the world. So even if you're not in the app's target audience, it's a boon to have simply to 'see how the pros do it.'

Urgh. Amazon wasn't my favourite company before, but they're really going down in my estimation, even so.

That the change specifically targets only mobile applications is also disconcerting. Does Amazon mean to tell its customers that they can only access their data and purchase books on-the-go through amazon.com or their own iPhone application (which was still unavailable outside the US last time I checked)? If so, this is an appalling land-grab by the company famous for 'inventing' one-click purchasing and other ridiculously-obvious ideas. As someone living outside the US, it's even more disgusting given Amazon's 'US-centric' view of the world— just what am I supposed to do now? Use their crappy 'iPhone-*minimized*' website? What about syncing my Delicious Library collection (of a fair few thousand books) to my iPhone, through a completely free application?

I understand that Wil was apprehensive about making DL for iPhone available for free— I'm sure this latest turn of events really makes him feel exonerated for making that decision…

Oh, and you saw how the clause above mentioned 'any site or application'? Well, that means that if your website which uses the Product Advertising API has a specialized mobile version (like, say, an iPhone representation) then you'll fall foul of this as well. Keep your eyes open for cease-and-desist notices, people.

In summation:

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