How to ensure iPhone news aggregator app is included in the App Store?
April 16, 2010 11:45 AM   Subscribe

My iPhone news reader app was rejected from the App Store for what looks like copyright reasons. What should I do to get it accepted after all?

It's a basic news reader app that monitors RSS feeds from news sources and displays the headlines along with the source name and a short description (up to 420 characters). You still have to visit the news source's site to read the actual article.

In this respect it is similar in functionality to various apps already available in the App Store, such as Fluent News, Notice News Aggregator, Broadersheet and I suppose many others. It's basically an RSS reader with pre-selected feeds.

The review team didn't specifically mention copyright to me but phrased it as such: "[We] cannot post your application because it appears to contain features, namely, content, that bear a resemblance to well-known third-parties [sic]" and then goes on to list a couple of the news sources monitored in my app.

I understand that the legality of some kinds of news aggregator implementations is debatable, but I feel I have a credible claim to fair use for this specific app. After all, I'm driving traffic to the sites, I don't actually offer the content but for a title and short description, etc.

Do you have any tips as to which steps I could take to make sure the app is published after all? Any angle I should pursue with Apple to get them to see my side? Have any of the developers among you encountered a similar situation and have any advice to share? Finally, what resources are there on the internet for people in my situation?

Thank you very much in advance for any help and/or insight.
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you don't fix the problem, they won't accept your app. It's pretty much that simple.

Usually they tell you what the problem is, however. Are you using any logo graphics or other copyrighted material?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:53 AM on April 16, 2010

If a news outlet provides an RSS feed then the RSS feed is a legitimate use of their content.
posted by sonic meat machine at 12:17 PM on April 16, 2010

Put up a blog post, spread the news around, and hope John Gruber links to it on Daring Fireball?
posted by 6550 at 12:22 PM on April 16, 2010

Would it defeat the purpose of your app to not include those preselected feeds?
posted by ignignokt at 1:03 PM on April 16, 2010

They think you're pretending to be the NYTimes or whoever else's feeds you are using. Update the app so that it's very clear that content is supplied by third parties, and that you are not those parties. A disclaimer in the about box and the description will go a long way here.

(Be sure too that those site's T&Cs allow this use of their feeds -- it's not as clear-cut as sonic meat machine would like, as News International are about to start proving.)
posted by bonaldi at 4:01 PM on April 16, 2010

: "I feel I have a credible claim to fair use for this specific app. After all, I'm driving traffic to the sites, I don't actually offer the content but for a title and short description, etc."

My guess is that the short description is the problem, if the descriptions are being hosted on a server other than where the article itself resides. Contrary to popular belief, even using just a small excerpt does not automatically qualify as "fair use." Generally speaking, the concept of fair use usually requires that the use is transformative. That you are simply giving someone traffic is mostly irrelevant.
posted by dhammond at 4:19 PM on April 16, 2010

You should post your question in the iPhone Dev SDK Forum: Business, Legal, & App Store. This is a common subject subject of discussion.

The advice tends to fall into two categories:

1. Stop doing the stupid thing you are doing (e.g. trying to sell "Bon Jovi Ultimate Collection" without the permission of Bon Jovi).

2. Write to (I think that's the right address) and ask them to clarify what the problem is. Sometimes they will write back. Sometimes they will even call you to discuss.

App developers deal with this all the time, unfortunately. From your brief description it's not clear to me what the problem is. I think you should try to fix it, and think there's a good chance it is fixable, but the first step is to try your best to ensure you know what it is they are objecting to.
posted by alms at 7:13 PM on April 16, 2010

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