In a step towards transparency, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has made the entire iPhone Developer Program License Agreement available for the general public. This is the document that all iPhone developers must agree to when they become part of the iPhone developer program.
As EFF points out, public copies of the license agreement are pretty scarce thanks to developers being locked under a non-disclosure agreement as part of the contract. EFF used the Freedom of Information Act to get its copy from NASA, which is the version from approximately a year ago (Rev. 3-17-09). The agreement has been updated since then.
The EFF characterizes the agreement as "a very one-sided contract, favoring Apple at every turn," and that's not an overstatement. Some of the clauses and conditions in the Apple developer agreement do smack of "our field, our ball, our rules" thinking from Cupertino. Highlights from the 28-page document include:
- A ban prohibiting developers from making public statements about the license agreement; however the contract itself is not considered "Apple Confidential Information."
- Apps developed from Apple's SDK are only allowed to be sold through the App Store. You can't push it anywhere else (Cydia, etc.), even if Apple has rejected the app for any reason.
- Developers are forbidden to tinker with any Apple products, not just the iPhone. This includes jailbreaking.
- Apple is not liable for more than $50 in damages in case something happens on their end to your app. This is laughable, and I'm honestly surprised that Apple has not had a legal challenge over this yet.
- Devices used for testing purposes could be locked into a "testing mode," and may not be able to be restored to their original condition. That is one way to brick your device.