Apple rejecting applications or preventing apps from covering certain topics — religion and pornography foremost among them — isn’t new. A service refusing to sell a piece of art because of its own misinterpretation of Apple’s guidelines is, however, and that’s exactly what happened with Comixology and the latest issue of “SAGA,” a comic series targeted at adults.
Brian K. Vaughan, the creator of “SAGA,” accused Apple of preventing applications from selling the latest issue, which featured “two postage stamp-sized images of gay sex,” on Tuesday. The story was picked up by numerous outlets and heralded as another example of Apple exerting too much control over what appears on its devices. In this instance, though, Apple is not only innocent of all charges, but also intervened and helped get some (apparently) questionable content onto users’ devices.
Comixology, the application that blocked the issue in question (and went unnamed in Brian’s release) has since announced that it, not Apple, blocked “SAGA’s” latest issue from its application, citing a misinterpretation of Apple’s submissions guidelines. Apple is said to have gotten in touch with Comixology to make it clear that “SAGA” does not violate its own guidelines, and Comixology will begin selling the issue “soon.”
The blockade resulted in a swirling of reports that Apple has an issue with the depiction of homosexual intercourse, that it exerts too much control over the App Store (which is still debatable), and that Apple is just plain wrong, in some way. Now that the truth — that Apple didn’t block the latest issue of “SAGA” and that it, in fact, helped get it published — is out, it seems like this is less an indictment against Apple and more a warning about what happens when software makers interpret Apple’s guidelines on their own.
One could argue about Apple’s rules and “guidelines” until they were blue in the face, and chances are that some good points would be raised. Apple as a governing body kinda sucks, what with its vague guidelines, shoddy enforcement, and lack of communication. But, as these last few days have shown, it’s far worse to have applications dependent on Apple and wary of those same rules and regulations than try to police on Apple’s behalf.
UPDATE: Vaughan issued a statement to The Verge shortly after publication, saying:
“I wanted to apologize to everyone for this entire Saga #12 kerfuffle. Yesterday, I was mistakenly led to believe that this issue was solely with Apple, but it’s now clear that it was only ever Comixology too conservatively interpreting Apple’s rules. I’m truly sorry. I never thought either company was being homophobic, only weirdly inconsistent about what kind of adult material was permissible. I’m grateful that the situation was cleared up so quickly, and I’m delighted I can go back to reading smutty comics on my Retina Display iPad.