HTML5 Unintended Consequence? Getting Around Apple In-App Sales Restrictions.

One unintended consequence of the accelerating popularity of HTML5 for mobile app development is an ability to skate past Apple’s App Store restrictions on in-app sales.  So I put this question to Piotr Steininger of Tapangi Consulting: There’s talk out there about being able to use HTML5 to get around Apple’s App Store ban on charging for in-app purchases.  In other words (I think), somehow HTML5 allows content producers to get around this problem by making apps (and other things) downloadable directly through web browsers.  So … how is it that HTML5 allows getting around this issue? Some background: Apple announced a policy change earlier this year, specifically in Section 11.14 of its App Store guidelines,

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Update: Privacy for Mobile Apps – The Limits of Transparency

In June of this year, Senator Al Franken (D. Minn.) introduced the “Location Privacy Protection Act of 2011” (S. 1223).  According to the bill summary available on Franken’s website, a 2010 investigation by the Wall Street Journal revealed that 47 of the top 101 mobile applications for Apple iPhones and Google Android phones disclose user location without consent of the user. According to Franken’s bill summary, current law prevents disclosure of user location during telephone calls without user consent. Currently, no similar legislation protects user location when a user accesses information through a mobile web browser or mobile application. Franken claims that his bill will close loopholes in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act that allow for this distinction. If S. 1223 passes, companies will be required to obtain permission not only to collect mobile user location information but also to share that information with third parties. Additionally, the bill seeks to put...

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Apple Changes App Store Guidelines, Developers Seek End-Around

Kate Tummarello is a Research and Social Media Intern with Mirsky & Company and a reporter at Roll Call/Congressional Quarterly.  Follow Kate on Twitter @ktummarello. Apple’s App Store is full of subscription-based content providers. Whether you’re watching a movie on the Netflix app, reading a book through the Kindle app or streaming a TV show using the Hulu Premium app, you’re probably used to paying for the app and then paying more for the content.… Read more

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App and Software Ownership – Misidentification of Value

You go into a conversation from a lawyer’s perspective, expecting the discussion to be all about “ownership, ownership and ownership”.  You might expect app and other software developers to focus on nothing other than ownership. Many times you’d be wrong.  One problem with ownership: Misidentification of value.… Read more

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Podcast #9: App Development Legal Issues: Open Source, Copyright, API Terms of Use and More

http://www.mstreetlegal.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/API-Dev-Cast.mp3 Today, we will discuss the business and, particularly, the legal landscape faced by application (App) developers dealing with mobile platforms (iOS, Android and Blackberry being dominant), including dealing with application interfaces (APIs) when developing based on existing applications, and, of course, client relationships.… Read more

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App Developer Legal Issues: API TOUs, Copyright and Trademark

Our Twitter chat last week with technology and entertainment lawyer Joy Butler highlighted legal issues with app development, including contract issues between app developers and clients, on one end, and intellectual property (IP) and API issues between the app and the intended development platform, on the other end. Privacy issues become pressing later when the app goes public for end users, although the biggest privacy problems tend to arise when app publishers get tripped up by commitments made in their own end user license agreements (EULAs) or privacy policies, more so than from any violations of privacy laws.  More on privacy and the app/API problems in a separate blog post. Immediate issues are copyright and trademark, both governed by federal laws, but also governed by API terms of use and similar application development agreements with hosting platforms.  Apple’s software developer kits (SDK) for the iPad and iPhone encompass similar purposes as part of broader...

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Twitter Chat: App Development/API Legal Issues with Andrew Mirsky and Joy Butler

The following is our first twitter chat on trending legal issues. This one focused on legal issues involved with app development and APIs and featured thoughts from attorneys Andrew Mirsky and Joy Butler (@joybutler). Be sure to stay tuned to the @MirskyLegal twitter account for more information on the next #lawchat and please tweet in using the provided unique hashtag!

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UMissouri Claims Rights to Student’s iPhone App – then Doesn’t

The Associated Press reported yesterday about a University of Missouri student who invented an iPhone app in a class, then was successful in generating more than 250,000 downloads of the app, and finally was contacted by lawyers for the University demanding a 25% royalty on all earnings from the app. According to the AP, the student, Tony Brown, was also given the celebrity treatment by Apple and wooed for technology jobs by Google and other companies. Ultimately, Missouri backed down, but not before overhauling the University’s technology transfer policies, at least as they relate to student development and ownership of intellectual property.  In this case, "Inventions" and copyrights that might be considered "work-for-hire".

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