Mobile Gutenberg Banned for Lewdness

Eucalyptus, an iPhone app designed to make electronic texts like those on the Project Gutenberg online archive more easily accessible, was banned by Apple last week.  Apparently, among its 28,000 out-of-copyright titles, Gutenberg contains an 1883 translation of the Kama Sutra.  Nevermind that anyone can navigate to the Project Gutenberg website using iPhone’s Safari browser, or that you could obtain it via several other ebook apps.  Said Eucalyptus developer James Montgomerie to The Guardian:

“I’d never even thought about searching for it before. You have to type either “kama’ or ‘sutra’ before it appears. It doesn’t seem likely that they were searching for something else and yet it seems absurd that they were searching for that.”

Then, on Sunday, Apple changed its mind and notified Montgomerie that Eucalyptus would be sold to users (Apple backtracks on iPhone sex ban | guardian.co.uk).

Apple really needs to figure out what they want to do in terms of what should and should not be made available for the iPhone.  Clearly the recent fallout regarding the baby-shaker app has got people jumping over at Apple.  They either need to make it clear to consumers that they shouldn’t be held responsible for the content of third-party programs, or set specific guidelines for developers about what they’ll sell in the app store.  When it comes to censorship there are no easy answers, but ignoring the question until it goes away just seems irresponsible.

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