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Comixology claims responsibility for banning Saga #12, rescinds ban

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Yesterday, we posted about Apple reportedly banning issue 12 of a comic book called Saga, due to a couple of graphic sex scenes included in it. The book's creator, Brian K. Vaughan, had posted that Apple wasn't allowing his book to be sold on the App Store, though it was available through a number of other channels. But today it turns out that Apple isn't to blame -- instead, the book's digital publisher, Comixology, has confessed that they made the decision not to sell the book.

Comixology runs the very popular Comics app on iOS, and they publish the digital versions of books from a number of different publishers, including Image Comics, who publishes the Saga series. The company's CEO, David Steinberger, has posted on the company blog that Comixology made its own decision to not publish the book, based on its assumption of Apple's policies. Of course, after the news yesterday, Apple says it would not have a problem with the book being published in Comixology's app, and Steinberger says the issue will be available soon, and apologizes to Vaughan and Image Comics for the confusion.

So there's both good news and bad news here. The good news is that this decision did not come from Apple -- instead, it was Comixology that jumped the gun and decided to not publish the book on the App Store.

But the bad news is that while Comixology did make the mistake, I can't really blame them for being concerned about Apple's retribution. Just yesterday, the company did threaten an App Store developer with removal over some adult content, and we've seen examples before of Apple being overly concerned about content that was already labeled for users 17-plus. That's why we here at TUAW jumped on this story and took the comic's creator, Vaughan, at his word -- because it's not hard to believe, given Apple's unclear and inconsistent polices on this matter, that they would have a problem with this book.

Fortunately, they don't, and all credit to them for confirming that. Macworld followed up with Apple to confirm the supposed ban, and in hindsight, we should have done the same. But as long as Apple's policies and their enforcement on what's OK and not OK for the App Store remain unclear, we may see more issues like this pop up, either driven by developers dependent on the App Store for revenue, or by Apple itself.

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