A furor erupted on the internet on Tuesday, when comic book writer Brian K. Vaughan announced that the latest issue in his series Saga would not be available for purchase via the Comixology app, due to explicit sexual images that were allegedly deemed objectionable by Apple. This despite the fact that the series had previously contained other images of a graphic nature that had not caused objections.
At the time, Vaughan himself noted on the website of his publisher, Image Comics, "you might be able to find SAGA #12 in Apple's iBookstore, which apparently sometimes allows more adult material to be sold than through its apps. Crazy, right?"
However, it appears that Vaughan may have been jumping the gun in assigning blame. Apple confirmed to Macworld later on Wednesday that it did not block Saga #12 and Comixology CEO David Steinberger subsequently took responsibility in a post on the company's blog:
"As a partner of Apple, we have an obligation to respect its policies for apps and the books offered in apps. Based on our understanding of those policies, we believed that Saga #12 could not be made available in our app, and so we did not release it today."
Steinberger went on to apologise to Vaughan and his publisher, Image Comics and to say that "our interpretation of [Apple's] policies was mistaken" and that Saga #12 would be available via the Comixology app soon; less than an hour later, it was indeed available for purchase.
On Wednesday night, I was able to confirm that the issue in question was available from the iBookstore and though it could not be purchased via the Comixology app, customers were able to buy Saga #12 from Comixology's website and have it synced to their iOS devices.
Given Apple's history of filtering content on the App Store, it's not surprising that the natural inclination was to assume that the company was responsible in this scenario as well.
In the past, Apple has tried to maintain a "family friendly" atmosphere in the App Store. Steve Jobs famously laid down "no porn" as one of the cornerstones of the storefront when it was announced in 2008. Since then, the company has made a point of quickly removing adult content when it has occasionally made its way into the store. Even the venerable Playboy has bowed to Apple and offers a version of its publication without nudity.
More recently, though, Apple's found itself having to police issues of user-generated-content. Apps like Vine or 500px have found themselves under fire from Apple when it was found that they could be used to access porn. After its removal, 500px was reinstated with a 17+ rating; Vine likewise had its age rating revised from 12+ to 17+.
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