Apple has rejected an e-book reader from its iPhone App Store because of the app’s ability to search for and download the Kama Sutra.
Called Eucalyptus, the reader app doesn’t come with any content. Similar to what the iTunes Store does with music, Eucalyptus enables users to find and download the books they wish to read. The app pulls e-books from Project Gutenberg, a well known web site that hosts public domain books.
Apple’s problem? Users can choose to download the text of Kama Sutra, which contains “objectionable” material. Eucalyptus developer Jamie Montgomerie posted Apple’s rejection letter on his blog:
We’ve reviewed Eucalyptus — classic books, to go. and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it contains inappropriate sexual content and is in violation of Section 3.3.12 from the iPhone SDK Agreement which states:
“Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.”
Apple’s App Store has been a huge hit in the mobile software industry, recently surpassing 46,000 applications available. However, the company’s iPhone application approval process has fallen under major scrutiny because of its inconsistency and unclear guidelines. For example, the company initially rejected a novelty fart app called Pull My Finger and then later approved it, but the game Baby Shaker, which involved shaking a baby to death, was initially approved before it was pulled down amid parental outrage.
The company is generally strict about potentially offensive content in its iPhone apps, but this is the first time we’ve seen Apple reject an app based on content that a user must manually search for to download. Montgomerie points out users could easily search for the Kama Sutra by typing a Google search in Safari.
In its latest e-mail to Montgomerie, Apple requests that the Kama Sutra be removed — even though the e-book is actually located on the Project Gutenberg database. Montgomerie has succumbed to installing a filter blocking users from searching for the Kama Sutra, and he awaits a response from Apple.