back to article Apple lifted 'make web go away' button from open source

Apple Safari's new "make web go away" button is based on an open source project distributed under the Apache 2 license. The Safari Reader – which debuted yesterday with version 5 of the Apple browser — is built using the source code for Readability, an Apache project from Arc90 Labs. In the wake of the browser's release, Arc90 …


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  1. ratfox

    Well, that's what Open Source means

    Ok, not exactly, and there are many variants. But I guess that people doing open source should expect their code to be used, possibly even by soulless corporations like Micro^H^H^H^H^HGoog^H^H^H^HApple.

    Telling the Readability project people would have been polite, but hey...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Why should they?!

      This is Lord Jobs of Cupertino.

      These FOSS people should be honoured that Lord Jobs has lowered himself to bless their product and see fit to include within the blessed Apple Canon!

    2. mordac

      Re: Well, that's what Open Source means

      "Ok, not exactly"

      No, that's *exactly* what open source means. Open source is about sharing your work so that others can benefit from it.. If you think otherwise you are completely missing the point. Mac OS X uses a ton of open source software: MacOS is based on the MACH microkernel and variants of BSD. Safari is based on WebKit. XCode uses GCC. Apple list a load of stuff at

      It's interesting that Apple used Readability, and I bet the Arc90 team are as pleased as anything that their code is being used, but to say that Apple "lifted" the code, or that there's any controversy here has a tinge of Daily Fail journalism.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    "Fanboy" posts response...

    ...while I don't consider myself a true "boi", I do consider myself a fan.

    And after reading this, I quote a notorious statement to Jobs & al:

    "Not in my name"

    Nope. No thank you.

    Sorry, but concealing the acknowledgement in some minutae, and passing it off as your own creation is simply not on. You've been in the grey area before, but now you're really taking the p!ss. If you'd really come out and said - "we've borrowed the best from OSS", you'd have saved at least some credibility.

    Will seriously consider moving from apple when your competitors "catch up" and offer or exceed the criteria that made me a fan in the first place.

  3. Mick F

    Apple, stealing ideas?!! You sure!!??

    Skeletor owns everything so it's not stealing.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    The new oxymoron...

    Apple Innovation at its best... Wish that someone has patented this 'method for one click web stripping' and b*tchslaps them. A 'we could not stand by while others misappropriate our intellectual property' letter against Apple would be reeeal nice!

  5. Anonymous Coward

    TechCrunch don't know anything

    There's a reason I read El Reg instead...

    1. LinkOfHyrule


      TechCrunch, sounds like a brand of Japanese dried cat food or something frankly.

  6. raving angry loony
    Black Helicopters

    GPL vs the world

    Why the shock and surprise? Those who pick software licenses that don't require contributions back to the open source community, or allow corporations to just pluck out what they want, have made their choice. If they didn't want that, they went GPL.

    Since they didn't, it means that they are in fact OK with corporations doing exactly what Apple did. The Apache, BSD and numerous other licenses allow Apple to do exactly what they did. I'm sure they kept the necessary licenses in the code itself, as required by the license. Since they aren't required to distribute that code, tough luck. Heck, far as I know they weren't even required by these licenses to put any acknowledgement anywhere other than the code. Which isn't distributed. Because the authors of these programs wanted that to happen. So why cry now?

    Think Apple is the only one? Ha! At least Apple DID acknowledge it! They technically didn't actually have to.

    There is, I believe, one license that forces corporations to acknowledge where they got the code, and forces folks who use the code to redistribute it. But of course, many of those who are currently blithering against Apple also get all hot and bothered against the GPL. Sorry, you can't have it both ways.

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge


      "But of course, many of those who are currently blithering against Apple also get all hot and bothered against the GPL."

      Sorry to be a pain in the arse but I don't believe that.

      1. raving angry loony

        Cite? Why?

        Personal observation and opinion? This ain't a fucking research paper, it's an opinion and comment posted by someone who goes by the moniker "raving angry loony". WTF do you expect? Sheesh.

        1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          Well I stil don't believe it.


      2. raving angry loony

        Cite? No, logic

        OK, let's answer this more seriously

        1) the only people who complain about others taking their stuff and not contributing are those who don't use the GPL. Those who use the GPL don't need to bitch about it, because they chose a license that doesn't allow it.

        2) the people who don't use the GPL are usually very defensive about their choice of license, and are often offensively minded against the GPL. They'll call it the "cockroach license", the "virus license", and other such terms of disdain.

        Therefore, I submit that those who complain about stuff getting used without public acknowledgement (1) are often (probably? that's the main arguable bit) part of the same group that complain about the GPL's existence (2). Because those that use the GPL don't need to complain about it, and those that don't use any license aren't contributing anything anyway.

        HTH. HAND.

        1. John Bailey

          Or three..

          None of the above.

          I'm a Linux user, and quite like the whole GPL thing. But willingly accept that some prefer to use a BSD style license or keep the whole thing closed and locked down as tight as legally possible.

          Anybody who complains GPL is bad is usually trying to freeload and sell someone else's work. Anybody who moans about anybody closing BSD type licenses is just as bad, and hypocritical if they are free software supporters.

          The only person who gets to decide is the owner of the code. Not me, not you, not the community at large. And not some faceless corporation.

          Apple have as much right to use open code as I do. No license infringement, no problem. IT would have been courteous to send a little thank you acknowledgement to the original authors, but not required.

          The article was no doubt intended to poke fun at Apple. Poster boy for closed locked down "look at our products funny and we'll sue" mentality, and the fanboys who have got themselves convinced that Steve Jobs personally invented everything. . Not to suggest that there is any reason why they should not have the option to use open code within the license conditions.. .

        2. Tim Bates


          1) People using the GPL have complained many times about people using their code and not re-sharing.

          Just look at the Busybox hall of shame (now not updated, but gives you the idea).

          2) What basis is this "usually" coming from? I admit I'm not really into following people's license choices, but aren't those who bag the GPL normally people who are against Open Source altogether (Ballmer for example)?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wrong

            "1) People using the GPL have complained many times about people using their code and not re-sharing."

            Yes, because that behaviour you refer to as "not re-sharing" is known as "copyright infringement" or "violating the terms of the licence". That is not at all like complaining in the fashion of people who apply permissive licences to their work and then get upset when other people adhere to the terms of the licence but don't pat them on the back, send them money, or whatever.

            "2) What basis is this "usually" coming from? I admit I'm not really into following people's license choices, but aren't those who bag the GPL normally people who are against Open Source altogether (Ballmer for example)?"

            Nope. There are a bunch of people who hate the GPL because it doesn't permit them to take GPL-licensed software and ship proprietary software based on it - for them, persuading everyone to write permissively-licensed software is essential to keep the flow of goodies coming. Usually, such people like to refer to the FSF as "communists" or other such nonsense in order to play the fear card and make it look like no-one will ever make any money from anything ever again if someone writes their stuff and puts the GPL on it.

            Interestingly, people who think Apple are really nice to open source (reality check: Apple actively apply for and enforce software patents) are quite likely to "not recommend" the GPL, as indeed are Apple themselves. Guess why that is!

            1. Just Thinking

              GPL is depressing

              People get involved with developing OSS for various reasons. I've worked on projects over the years, things that are more interesting than my day job or extend my experience. You get to share knowledge with like minded people, the work gets done quicker than if you did it on your own, and quite often there are people who enjoy doing the bits of the project you aren't too interested in.

              I use BSD style licences, because I prefer the code to be used, if indeed it is of any use to anyone. I have never met anyone on any project i have worked on who actually wanted GPL (to be fair, most didn't care either way).

              I find GPL completely depressing, and quite damaging to OSS, because there is a whole body of open source out there which I can see but can't use in my own open source projects. And most of it is only GPL either because they got brainwashed the FSF ideology, or they were effectively blackmailed into it in order to make use of other GPL sources.

              There are plenty of people hate GPL for various reasons.

              1. Anonymous Coward

                Re: GPL is depressing

                "I find GPL completely depressing, and quite damaging to OSS, because there is a whole body of open source out there which I can see but can't use in my own open source projects."

                Why can't you use it? Oh, that's right: you want to reserve the option of making proprietary software, or you "don't mind" if others do that. But if you really are developing "open source projects" where, you know, your users actually get the source, then the GPL is just fine.

                "And most of it is only GPL either because they got brainwashed the FSF ideology, or they were effectively blackmailed into it in order to make use of other GPL sources."

                Oh, that's right: people couldn't possibly make an informed choice about it; you're the only one with the brains, after all. I think not.

                "There are plenty of people hate GPL for various reasons."

                Yes, most of them aren't even good reasons.

              2. JEDIDIAH

                Us vs. YOU

                > There are plenty of people hate GPL for various reasons.

                Yes. They hate it because they can't take it and treat it like their own personal property like some bratty 4 year old. THIS is the primary contingent of people that whine about the GPL. The GPL is meant to cater to "you and me" rather than the wannabe robber baron.

                Any GPL hate thread invariably comes back to people who really haven't gotten past preschool that equate stealing other people's work with hijacking their own.

                There are a lot more "users" than there are "wannabe robber barons".

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Down

          GPL Fanbois

          And now the GPL fanboys crawl out of the woodwork..

          enough already! go back to slashdot!

        4. Nigel 11


          One other thing about the GPL. There's nothing in it to stop the owner of the copyright granting a non-exclusive non-GPL license to interested parties, in exchange for payment. Had this code been GPL'ed, its copyright owner might have been offered payment by Apple.

  7. Jay Jaffa

    And leopard is

    not about to change its spots. Most of apple's commercial codebase is built on Open Source foundations. Get over it or get on it - they don't have a monopoly on hardware or software - simply the vision and resources to do what they do. Retaliate with better products back or accept that your late nights and C++ code is out there to be monetized ...

    1. garetht t

      Straw man

      a) Noone accused them of having a monopoly

      ii) Of course they have the vision and resources to do what they do. Every has the vision and resources to do what they themselves do. Otherwise they wouldn't be able to do it.

  8. Tzael

    No shit Sherlock...

    It's always amused me how Apple's reinvention over the last few years has been described as innovative, despite the majority of their software releases since OS X having been derived from existing open source solutions. Fellow programmers are often surprised when I point out that Apple doesn't invent its own solutions. Sure Apple are great at dressing things up, but ultimately their programmers are touching only the cosmetic aspects of existing open-source solutions, and not actually getting involved with the nitty gritty of real coding.

    Shame Apple gets all the credit for other peoples' hard work.

    1. Quxy

      And what is non-innovative about using OSS?

      Eh? You write as if the proprietary closed-source nature of Windows is good for anyone. Apple's insight was that they could make a better commercial product by building on high-quality peer-reviewed OSS, and use their internal development resources for things like the UI where differentiation was important. And, no surprise, that's worked very well for them.

      OSX incorporates well over 200 OSS projects. Unfortunately, Apple's token contributions back to these projects and the OSS community at large - let's not even get into KHTML, Safari, and WebKit - has always been a source of contention. At the point that Apple contributes something substantial back to the community that has been critical to the success of OSX, Stevie-boy can finally brag about Apple's "openness".

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge


      If OSX is just something like Linux dressed up then why does it perform so much better than Linux?

      OSX is a Unix based OS. However the GUI frameworks and system libraries are mostly Apple's own.

      You seriously need to look at the history of the OSX, it is derived from Nextstep which was Steve Job's company that was set up when he left Apple years ago.

      Much of the OSX code technology was taken from Nextstep, display postscript, use of Objective C.

      If you'd done any ObjectiveC on Mac OS using Cocoa (unlikely) then you'd know that many of the datatypes (like strings) start with NS, eg. NSString. The NS = Nextstep.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Fanboy nonsense.

        > If OSX is just something like Linux dressed up then why does it perform so much better than Linux?

        It does? That's news to me. I have a neglected mini under the desk. Short of hosting some interesting proprietary apps, IT DOES NOTHING BETTER. It is better than Windows but that is a pathetically low bar. It is mainly better than Windows because Windows is a malware breeding ground. Get beyond that and MacOS doesn't have anything on anything else.

        If anything it is more difficult to deal with because it is restrictive. It's like iphone-lite.

        You're fine if you have very light requirements.

        Then you're stuck installing all of the stuff that you could run on Linux or Windows.

        If I want to spend $500 or $1000 for some payware app, then a Mac makes sense. Otherwise, it's just a combination of Microsoft's BS with some more of it's own added for good measure.

        ...I had to add memory to a mini just to get to the point where it ran MacOS without being intolerably sluggish (rather than happily running Linux).

  9. Coco Lopez

    Need room to put their own ads on there...

    Of course Apple wants all those distracting ads out of the way so that they can make room to put their own ads on there. And you can bet there won't be a button for getting rid of those --- too many useful buttons just clutters up the UI. Hey Apple, I've got a gesture for you, and it only requires one finger. Works without a touch screen too!

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Saw that while gazing into your I-hate-Apple crystal ball, did ya? Amazing insight. I'll bet you get hours of fun every night sitting around it finding new things to loathe and hate about Apple.

      Get a fucking life.

      1. chr0m4t1c

        Got enough stuff already, don't need a life

        I don't think you need to be an Apple hater to see where things might go.

        First, Apple launched iAds, HTML5 based advertising sold through Apple and easy to incorporate into iPhone apps.

        Next, Apple starts pushing out new versions of Safari with more HTML5 compatibility.

        Then Apple launches a version of Safari that allows you to get rid of those pesky ads all over normal web pages (Flash ads, anyone? Google who?).

        It doesn't take a huge leap of imagination to see that they might put iAds into Safari at a later date and make sure they show up in the current "ad-free" mode.

        How much extra revenue will the generate if advertisers can make an iAd that will appear on both the iPhone and Safari *and* isn't easily blocked?

        Apple exists to make money, I seriously doubt they haven't at least considered doing this. It's not about being a hater or a fanboi, it's about trying to spot the business opportunities. If Apple thinks they can do this without driving too many people away, then expect to see it soon.

      2. Wallyb132

        @Anonymous Coward RE:@Coco

        i find it funny that you, Mr. Anonymous Coward, come here to El Reg and so bravely stand up and defend the honor of Fanbois Apple-Tards and Fruit Fairies the world over, proclaiming that Coco should "Get a fucking life.", Yet you lack the moral fiber to show your face and post your comments under the veil of the Anonymous Coward.

        To that honor, I sir, hand you a mirror for the next time you wish to utter your advice: "Get a fucking life."

        I would also like to hand you this cute furry little doll as a parting gift for coming here and expressing your opinion of others.

        1. Anonymous Coward


          Your username is just as anonymous. Nobody has a clue who you are, so unless you're prepared to use your real name, shut the fuck up about us "anonymous cowards".

          Some of us have very good reason to be anonymous, such as I don't want my comments identified by my boss.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Any developers here?

    Some of the commentators really don't understand the nature of open source. In day to day development for all sorts of enterprise and other applications, an absolute shedload of open source libraries, apis and toolkits are used as a matter of course and the developers not told about it. It's just the way it works.

    Apple are to be applauded for actually using this sort of resource!

  11. Frank Thomas

    Apache lic huh?

    this is why the apache and BSD licenses are inferior to the GPL.

    I would welcome apples use and contribution to OSS code and projects, but when they are declaring a patent war on other OSS offerings, I call shenanigans.

    1. Rolf Howarth

      Patent war

      Oh, and Apple's "patent war" as you put it isn't against open source but against companies like Google and HTC who are blatantly imitating the iPhone for their own commercial benefit (unless you think they're driven by altruistic motives?)

    2. Rolf Howarth


      Sorry, why exactly is BSD inferior to GPL??

      It seems to me that the purpose of writing software and giving it away for free is one or more of:

      a) to attempt to make the world a better place by letting others share and benefit from what you've done

      b) to get kudos and recognition for what you've created

      c) pursue a one man vendetta against the evils of capitalism and large corporations

      If your purpose is c) then go for it, the GPL is for you, but if it's a) or b) how exactly are your objectives met by writing software and then NOT having people use it? If I'd written something like Readability and then had my ideas validated by having it deployed overnight to millions of machines around the world I'd be chuffed as hell, not upset about it.

      1. Martin Owens

        The Commons


        Because the BSD and Apache licenses produce a weak commons, it's a protected area that is guaranteed in some for to remain free as in accessible. It's no good having licenses that can so easily be enclosed.

        It's the misunderstanding of FOSS that makes people use BSD style licenses, they think it's a charity, they think it's altruism, it's not, it's industrial revolution.

        1. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

          No, it's not a misunderstanding

          I've been writing code for 20 years. Most of it commercial, some I release under BSD and some under GPL. It depends entirely on how you want the product used - what platform, what role it fulfils with other software, whether you're trying to encourage or discourage commercial use, whether you're trying to encourage or discurage third-party contribution and so on.

          Each license, like a programming language, is appropriate for some jobs and not for others. These days for a project I pick the license shortly after I prove the concept works, and I do that after some serious thought. Misunderstanding's got nothing to do with it.

      2. rhdunn


        The choice of License and development strategy is dependent on the developer(s) of the project and how they want the project to be used.

        If the developers don't want people to see or modify the code, they should use a proprietary model.

        If the developer wants people to see the code, but not necessarily contribute back and are happy with people using their code in proprietary code bases / products, they should use a BSD-style license.

        If the developer wants people to see the code and contribute back any and all changes to the code, and is happy with people using the code in proprietary code bases / products as a library / external module, they should use the LGPL license.

        If the developer wants people to see the code and contribute back any and all changes to the code, and is not happy with people using the code in proprietary code bases / products as a library / external module, they should use the GPL license.

        It is that simple.

        People who choose the GPL license do not necessarily have a vendetta against the evils of capitalism and large corporations. The GPL does not forbid capitalists or large corporations from using the software.

        Likewise, people who choose a BSD-style license are not anti-Open Source.

  12. FARfetched

    Thanks for the link

    First I'd heard of Readability, and I'm still stuck on OSX 10.4. Yeah, I need to upgrade, but I'll make use of Readability until then.

  13. Misoriented

    Open source is not a religion, nor Stallman your Lord and Savior

    This is a non-story. This code is available through the Apache license, which allows pretty much anything. It's not the same as GPL. You can argue until you're blue in the face that GPL is better, but Arc90 chose to release their code under an Apache license, and that's their right. Go write your own code and release it however you want. Apple didn't "lift" anything. It actually did more than it was required to by putting a credit to Arc90 in there.

    At the same time, Apple needn't be applauded for anything. This was just some developers doing their jobs, which they did completely legally and appropriately.

    Open source is just a copyright license, people. It's not a way of life.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Stallman is not our Lord

      It's more like a prophet but, man, the best we ever had. This is why Microsoft and Apple are unwilling to even spell the word GPL.

      1. The First Dave


        One good idea does not make a god.

        Particularly when there are so many other crappy ideas to go along with the one good one. And don't forget that the ultimate irony that the 'one good idea' goes a long way towards paying for Stallman's bed and board - so not so 'Free' at all.

  14. Neil 7

    @Apache lic huh?

    > this is why the apache and BSD licenses are inferior to the GPL.

    Some companies/corporations could or would not use OSS if they were compelled to contribute back (for various reasons, such as competitive advantage, corporate politics, questions over legal ownership etc.) so the choice of licences - some of which do not require contribution - is actually a GOOD thing as it lowers the barrier for OSS usage.

    I have personally worked for one of the worlds largest investment banks where I had to hack a change into Tomcat but did not contribute the change back because the firm were (at the time) unclear over how to accomplish that from a legal perspective. As the licence didn't compel us to commit the change we didn't - if it had we'd have had to use an alternative (and quite possibly closed source) product.

    In the case of Apple, like it or not they are abiding by the licence. In fact it doesn't even sound as if Arc90 are that upset by the lack of recognition from Apple or their wholesale copying of their idea. Fair play to them for taking such a mature attitude, but I admit it would be nice if Apple were to acknowledge where they got the idea.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: @Apache lic huh?

      "Some companies/corporations could or would not use OSS if they were compelled to contribute back"

      Copyleft licences only require you to disclose the sources to downstream recipients. In fact, you can't have conditions like "you must send me, the original author, your changes" and be compatible with the GPL.

      "I have personally worked for one of the worlds largest investment banks where I had to hack a change into Tomcat but did not contribute the change back because the firm were (at the time) unclear over how to accomplish that from a legal perspective."

      I guess big companies with tons of money just can't get decent legal advice, then. Even if Tomcat were copyleft-licensed, without distributing it you wouldn't need to make that change available to others. Getting stuff into the upstream distribution would be desirable from a maintenance perspective, but just about any licence would trouble the lawyers, not just copyleft ones.


      GPL is a DISTRIBUTION license.

      > have personally worked for one of the worlds largest investment banks where I had to hack a

      > change into Tomcat but did not contribute the change back

      This is NONSENSE.

      You don't have to give access to change unless you DISTRIBUTE THEM.

      They can change all sorts of GPL code all they like, all day, if they want. They don't have to "give back" a thing. You only have to distribute changes when you actually distribute them. If you don't try to set yourself up as the next Microsoft then you are in no danger. The requirement to distribute changes/source only triggers when you distribute your changes. Send out the binaries and you have to send out the source.

      Some company that want to exploit something and tweak it and never release it to anyone else never has to to worry even under the GPL.

      The GPL only gets in the way of software robber barons.

  15. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    Programmers use other people's code all the time.

    What the hell do you think libraries and API calls to the operating system *do*?

    *Every* program you write for a computer relies on an ever-increasing foundation of *third party code*. Every half-decent C++ coder will be familiar with the Boost libraries. Every C programmer has probably used sprintf() and never once considered adding a thank-you to the creators of the C Standard Library in their own application's credits.

    This is not news. This is just groundless, utterly unfounded Apple-bashing. If you give work away, why the hell are you acting all surprised when other people take advantage of it?

    There's nothing special about open source. It's been around a bloody sight longer than the FSF and Stallman. It sure as hell isn't a concept exclusive to the FSF, nor is a GPL mandatory. Deal with it.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      re : groundless, utterly unfounded Apple-bashing

      and what's wrong with that?

      1. Sean Timarco Baggaley


        But you'd think the sky had fallen the way some commentaries here bang on about giving back 'to the community'.

        Newsflash: commercial entities are just as much part of a community as any individual. A corporation is just a bunch of people working together towards a common goal: paying the bills.

    2. multipharious


      "...groundless, utterly unfounded Apple-bashing."

      Sorry man, but when you stick your lower lip out like that and stomp your foot you just make me laugh. It's OK, we didn't say your iPad couldn't join the tea party with Miss Mopsy and Mister Bun.

      Seriously though, the library includes in C++ are slightly different than snagging a chunk of code like a rat going after a crumb. Apple may be following the letter of the law with the acknowledgement, but at least in this forum there are a few of us that think a more proactive polite tip of the hat might have been more appropriate...perchance?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Hang on! Has anyone asked Arc90 how *they* feel about it?

        After all, it is *their* code! To address the “apple-bashing” issue, look at who authored this missive. He's obviously entitled to his opinions, as is everyone else, but the article is fact-lite and altogether based on knee-jerk reaction. As for the notion that “ least in this forum there are a few of us that think a more proactive polite tip of the hat might have been more appropriate...perchance?”. Before suggesting Apple should be chastised for their opprobrious behaviour (whilst I appreciate that you are not exactly calling for that course of action, the author and several other posters essentially are), perhaps the thoughts of the developers at Arc90 should actually be sought; “This is nice. Readability is in the acknowledgements in Safari 5.” ( Seems that this moral outrage is, as usual, misplaced (at best) by folks who have no immediate involvement with the project, who, for whatever reason, want to wag their ignorant finger vitriolocally in the direction of Apple/Google/Microsoft/other (delete as appropiate). For those that feel the urge to downvote this, think about why. You aren't downvoting someone “defending” Apple, who have not actually done any wrong or behaved in any way inappropriately; rather you are defending a journalist not fully researching his article, but hey, I accept that not everyone will share my view.

    3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      LGPL perchance

      Check the license that the libraries you refer to are published under. There has been some very careful work to make sure that all of the foundation libraries required to compile applications are published under the Lesser Gnu Public License that explicitly allows linking non-GPL'd code without requiring you to publish the source.

  16. sleepy

    It's about Google

    Google decided to enter Apple's markets with Android. So now we have turf wars, and Apple is is getting tough with Google. Here, and with iAd and with new app store terms, Apple is shutting Google out of large amounts of territory where they thought they could sell billboards to all.

    1. Anton Ivanov
      Thumb Up

      Actually it is not

      This puts back the web where Google wanted it to be - a few non-intrusive context ads per page. If you have only those you are not going to go and push the damn "strip" button. If this gets wide adoption it will force most of the web to follow Google's web design and usability canon.

      It does not however change most of the Googly ad revenue stream in the long term. It may even improve it. Context sensitive click-through on sites designed around the "do not provoke the user to push the button" principle will probably have even higher ROI than now. The ads will be few, far between and not obscured by cruft. This can only be good for a context sensitive ad broker. It will have lower number of click throughs (lower opex), but with higher price per each (higher margin).

      The ones to suffer from this one will be sites designed around bespoke and site-specific in-your-face ads. Including ElReg as well as services like mobile browsing optimisation which make money on similar transforms at the moment.

  17. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    They could have checked their changes in

    Apple's version works with multi-page articles, Readability doesn't (yet).

    Bad show, but unsurprising for how Apple works lately.

  18. Richard 120
    Jobs Horns


    So I think I know where this is going, there's ad revenue out there to be made, currently people can make money from adverts on their web pages.

    So how best to get a part (or ALL) of that revenue?

    Step 1 - Strip websites of advertising

    Step 2 - Push advertising through Safari

    Step 3 - Profit!

    Step 4 - Original content no longer able to generate revenue through advertising thus reduction of original content and a slow dwindling consolidation and death of independant websites into just a few content providers, Apple, Google, Microhoo.

    Step 5 - death of t'internet

    The plan for Safari probably stops at Step 3, Step 4 is a likely to be an inevtiable consequence of the technology. Step 5 is innacurate as you will still have content providers, but they'll be profiting the few and startups will struggle.

  19. YumDogfood

    @Dan 55 & others

    It would be nice of Apple to 'check in the changes', but they are under no legal obligation to do so, unlike the GPL with its (re)distribution clauses with regard to source code modifications. Arc90 made their bed, and Apple laid its skinny arse on it. End of.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      My point precisely

      Time was when Apple was more engaged with open source, in spite of what the licence said. Now it seems the lawyers have completely taken over instead of half-taken over.

      I suppose this will mean a shift from BSD/Apache licences to GPL. And who can blame the owners?

  20. HamishTPB
    Jobs Horns

    Nothing new

    Nothing new in large companies slapping their branding on existing ideas and technology and hiding the real credits in the virtual basement, whether "bought-in" or open sourced.

    Nothing new in partial openness of certain licences being exploited or - to lessen confusion for those who's grasp of language is limited to a single reactionary connotation of the word - used legitimately according to the licence.

    Nothing new in this idea either though (surprised no-one noted this), there have been browser plugins and browsers with this functionality built-in for years. OK so it isn't a "magic button" but I have been using very effective ad blocking and 3rd party image and script blocking for years on Konqueror and more recently on Firefox.

  21. bobbles31

    At what point...

    does taking somebodies website that they have potentially spent thousands of pounds developing changing the fonts here jiggery poking about there and presenting it to the user become a violation of my IP over the site.

    I am pretty sure that if I took some apple brochure removed the crap and made an equivalent pamphlet and then started hanging around outside an apple store asking people if they want to swap their glossy version for my concise and brief version that Apple would be starting to think about suing me for unauthorised reproduction of their IP.

    And surely removing the adverts from said site is tantamount to theft. The site itself is probably supported by said advertising.

    This harks back to the Phorm argument, the browser, the ISP and all the links between the client and a site should merely pass the information on and not fiddle with it.

    1. Havin_it

      Yeah but no but

      While I see where you're coming from, and don't much fancy the idea of my "beautiful" sites being butchered in this way either, 2 things:

      (a) As a web author/provider, you serve up and transmit a page of HTML and some other odds and sods in a presentational style and structure of your liking. Once it's left your server and is represented on the client's screen, it's really up to them what they do with it. By way of an analogy, suppose I buy a newspaper, throw away the sports pullout, and rip the top two inches of celebutard-baiting Heat-magazine-style "teaser" bollocks off the front page before I start reading. Does this make me a thief? No - I bought the paper, it's my right to make it into a funny hat, without reading any of it, if I so choose.

      (b) Readability is something the user has to voluntarily use after loading the original page; it's not like the user never even sees your proffered layout and content (although if they were really hard-assed I suppose they could combine it with Greasemonkey) - I don't know what the score is with Safari but I bet it's not automatic either. So your analogy doesn't quite ring true - it's more like you'd be standing outside the store telling everyone who walks out clutching a brochure (and can be bothered to listen) that pages 1-4, 6-7 etc. are drivel, and *they* ought to rip them out and oh, I've some scissors if you need 'em. To be fair, the fruit police would probably give you a doing-over for that too, but for once I don't think they could do much legally, except maybe harrassment charges or an ASBO.

      Here's a thought: maybe if the authors of informational sites worked harder to strike a reasonable balance between content and window-dressing/ads/etc, then widgets like these would never have been conceived of in the first place.

      1. Richard 120

        What about....

        Another way of doing it? A lot of websites rely on advertising revenue, those slimy browser developers are trying to muscle in on that turf.

        It would be nice if the browser was obliged to indicate whether it was going to render the ads on your site or not.

        You could then choose whether to supply the content or not.

        Alternatively you could intrinsically link the content and the advert, so the content doesn't render coherently without the ad information. A kind of product placement.

        You could make a decision on whether to provide content based on the browser string as a quick and dirty.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          RE Advertising revenue.

          This is a non-issue. The page (an therefore the ads) need to load fully before the reader can be loaded.

  22. Roby

    nothing wrong

    They acknowledged Readability, they used it under the Apache licence. I really don't see the problem here...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    the "know it all" are at it again

    I wish you could just STFU and do something useful with your time. go invent something that people will thank you for. right now, you're a waste of 1001110011110000111010110111001

  24. Jared Earle
    Jobs Halo


    Hey, even Arc acknowledge they lifted the idea from Marco Arment's superb Instapaper and you don't see him complaining.

    If Arc didn't want the code to be used this freely, they would have used a more restrictive license; this is why they chose this specific license!

  25. justkyle

    What's the difference?

    Between "make the web go away button" and a true, real text mode browser, like lynx or links?

    Can I call shenanigans yet?

    It wasn't too terribly long ago when you could tell your browser NOT to automatically load graphics, etc because you were on a slow dialup connection.

    Web 2.0/HTML5 Badger's Paws, you be the judge!

  26. heyrick Silver badge

    Funny how...

    ...there are "rumours" of assembling a stack of patents to go after a competing video codec, yet helping yourself to somebody else's code without so much as a thank you is really not on. Double standards? Blatantly taking the p!ss?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Apple legally using free code? Bring out the oh noes!

    Did you all forget that OSX is essentially FreeBSD with a proprietary GUI? Guess what, if you grant a permissive license to your code, you generally WANT it to be used everywhere.

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