This guest post comes from Christopher Meatto who advocates free access to ideas, has been working as an intellectual property advisor for years and promotes intelligent application of the collective copyright and intellectual property laws and traditions at his blog at harvardlaw74.com
The Apple App Store rejection of Flattr’s micro-payment donation application is anticompetitive behavior that has long been disfavored in the United States under our federal and state antitrust laws. Flattr, as currently constructed, collects its donations outside of the App Store payment system.
The pending United States antitrust action over Apple’s e-book pricing schemes in in full motion. A second possible claim, as reported by The Wall Street Journal in February 2012, is being pursued by the United States Justice Department and the FTC, who are both interested in examining whether Apple is running afoul of U.S. antitrust laws by funneling media companies’ customers into the payment system for its iTunes store — and taking a 30% cut.”
The 30 percent cut is exactly what must be at the heart of the Flattr rejection.
Crowdsourcing of comments already reveals a severe backlash to Apple’s attempt to monopolize the collection of App Revenues.
From the MacWorld post on this February 2011 investigation:
As a “content provider” for publications working on iPad apps right now, this is really, really bad news for me and the industry, and I find it morally repugnant. Apple knows the industry is struggling, and that it is vital to our society. The incomes of “content providers,” which all of you rely on, have dropped precipitously in the last few years–and believe me, it is perfectly appropriate to generalize, in this case. Demanding a 30% cut will hasten the decline of American (and world?) journalism, which they rely on to add value to their products. It’s reckless, greedy and shortsighted. The money isn’t there, Apple, it’s in your great hardware and software. Let me earn a living. – Dave, Friday, February 18, 2011
Dropbox was recently subjected to the same medicine handed here to Flattr, when its third party developers’ apps were rejected since they allowed for Dropbox account establishment and payments outside the App Store 30 percent protected zone.
Further, Gizmodo recently reported on the arbitrary removal of Airfoil Streaming Audio App, suggesting an anticompetitive motive.
We must continue the groundswell here on behalf of Flattr and urge a rigorous Department of Justice review of this anticompetitive behaviour. I affirm the comments of one YCombinator contributor, who laments:
…monopolies cause problems with deincentivization of innovation, uncompetitive behaviour, poorer outcomes for consumers and often higher prices. Apple are beginning to show all these signs. I would suggest that given enough instances of incidents like these that the US DOJ would be within their rights to start another anti-trust case.