Last night I wrote a blogpost about the first application I built for the iPad. I’m so happy with the (coming of) the new gadget and the possibilities that the MonoTouch created to rite .NET code for it, that I could not wait to write a sample app and to share my experiences with the rest of the world.
So at 11 o’clock I sent out a tweet with a link to the blog. About 60 seconds later I got a reply from someone that I trust knows what he is talking about, that I better remove the post since I agreed on a NDA.
Wow, did I? Yes, I did. When you download the beta of the iPhone 3.2 SDK there’s the following text:
Yep, the beta is considered Apple Confidential Information. So I removed the post and went out to discover what I could and could not do under this NDA. Tried searching apple.com on the exact string “Apple Confidential Information”. No hits. Searched the legal department at apple.com/legal, no hits on beta software
Finally came up with the idea to search on the sub-site of the Apple Developer Centre. On the page on Pre-release software there is the rather clear text:
Pre-release software is Apple Confidential Information and your use of such software is subject to the Apple Developer Connection Terms and Conditions, including the Prototype License and Confidentiality Agreement attached thereto. Distributing the software to anyone other than an ADC member who is working for the same entity as you is considered a violation of your agreement with Apple and is damaging to both Apple and those who develop for the Apple platform. We sincerely appreciate your efforts to keep this software Confidential.
The last part I understand: no distribution of the software. No problem. But I think the Confidentiality Agreement must hold more information. There is a “Terms and Conditions” PDF that has a section 7 on Pre-release software that essentially tells you that “You certify that pre-release software will only be used for testing and development purposes”. Fine so far, but it also refers to the attached Prototype License and Confidentiality Agreement. So where is that agreement and what does it say?
The PLCA (as they lovingly call it) is on page 5 of the PDF and has a section 4 on non-disclosure:
You agree not to disclose, publish, or disseminate Confidential Information to anyone other than employees and contractors working for the same entity as you who have an existing ADC membership
Well, there it is. No right to publish Confidential Information, which means no stuff that Apple hadn’t already published about. So I can write about the iPad, I can write about the existence of the SDK, but I cannot write about a certain new UI-control that I used to build my demo app. Even though I like this new UI-control and love what it does for me.
Is this really necessary? What good does it do Apple when I don’t write about their products? About a product that they most certainly want as much coverage of as they can get: the brand new iPad?
Should I really be worried that they will sue me when I break my Vow of Silence? Of course, being Dutch, growing up in a country that is known around the world to be liberal, it is hard to believe someone will really sue you. Especially when you write nice about them.
I don’t like secrets, I don’t like lawyer stuff that tries to protect (imprison?) ideas. I do like what Jeff Atwood wrote about ideas: ideas in itself are not very valuable, it is how you execute them. So my message to Apple: liberate your ideas, they are great, I love them. Allow others to rave and rant about them, who cares? You are the one that is going to execute them in the most profitable way, any way. Right? And if you’re not going to, then don’t blame the blogger, blame yourself.