Pulitzer Winner's Political Cartoon App Barred by Apple

Dennis Faas's picture

You'd think it'd be great to get award-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore's work on your portable Apple device, wouldn't it? Unfortunately, Fiore, who last week won the Pulitzer Prize for his edgy political cartoons, was banned from Apple's App Store late last year.

Cartoonist App Violates License Agreement

According to a report by Nieman Journalism Lab of Harvard University, Fiore submitted a cartoon app to the NewsToons Apple App Store in December. Unfortunately, it was rejected because of a perceived violation against section 3.3.14 of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement. The issue? It would seem Fiore's cartoons were just a bit too close to offensive. (Source: pcmag.com)

Section 3.3.14 of the agreement reads:

"Applications must not contain any obscene ... offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple's reasonable judgment may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users."

In a letter to Fiore, Apple said his submitted cartoon-based app "ridicules public figures."

In other words, there's a very fine line between edgy and incisive humor and jokes that could be considered offensive by some groups. Based in San Francisco, Fiore's work tends to lean a little left, meaning characters like 'Captain Killmore' and 'Right-Wing Ralphie' could certainly upset some.

Critics Question Apple's Moral Police Role

The problem for many critics is that Apple has passed its own political judgment by barring Fiore's work. Is a slightly left-leaning cartoon really that much worse than a app that 'farts'? Apple clearly thinks it is.

It's not the first time Apple has played moral arbiter when it comes to app submissions. Last year it refused to release an app featuring a bobblehead House of Representatives, until surprising pressure forced Apple to back off. It's possible we could see a repeat here.

Ultimately, it would seem many tech pundits want the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement changed. Until that's done, Apple will have the power to "reject [an app] for any reason, even if Your Application meets the Documentation and Program Requirements." (Source: theregister.co.uk)

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