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Unauthorized iPhone news readers raise eyebrows

Nilay Patel
01.14.10
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Here's an interesting little new media legal dilemma for you: apparently there are several paid apps in the iPhone App Store that bill themselves as "readers" for publications like the New York Times, CNET, and the BBC, but aren't actually licensed or official in anyway -- they're just pulling RSS feeds. That means people paying for an app like The New York Times Mobile Reader aren't actually getting an app from the Times -- and, perhaps more importantly, the Times isn't getting anything from anyone. Seems like Apple should probably just shut these apps down, but that's the interesting part: all these apps are pretty much just custom-built feed readers, and you can generally access all of the same content using Safari. Now, there's obviously a trademark issue involved here, especially if these apps are confusing people into thinking they're official, but we're curious to see how these pubs and Apple handle the situation in the next few weeks, since it's relatively uncharted territory.

P.S.- Let's not even get into the fact that Apple's rated the NYT Mobile Reader app "12+" for "Infrequent / Mild Mature / Suggestive Themes." Oh, the App Store.

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