Mix: iPhone patent, Apple in China, ITV, iPhone clones, iTunes boots homophobes

Apple has received a patent covering messaging on portable touchscreen devices (such as the iPhone), which goes beyond SMS to cover web-based instant messaging as well. Published in March, the patent is titled “portable device for instant messaging” and includes images depicting a user interface much like that of the iPhone’s SMS application, with patent claims covering the device’s unique ability to use a contacts database to group together all messages from one person, regardless of the phone number or electronic addresses he issending the messages from.

A new Apple store-within-a-store has been unveiled at a Shanghai area Best Buy. The store-in-store, Apple’s first in mainland China, was awarded to the Xuhui Best Buy due to that location being the leading retailer of Apple products in China in 2007. According to reports, the store-within-a-store occupies a total area of about 50 sq. meters, and displays more than 60 different Apple computers, devices, and accessories.

Programming from ITV has been added to the iTunes Store in the UK. Currently available programs include “Lewis,” “Brideshead Revisited,” “Captain Scarlet,” “Goodnight Mr. Tom,” “Cold Feet,” and “The Saint.” The Store’s ITV page also suggests that more shows will be added “soon.” [via Macworld UK]

Apple has begun aggressively pursuing iPhone clone dealers, according to a TG Daily report. Simon Rimmer, managing director of UK reseller Digital Playground, said that Apple’s legal team sent it a letter threatening legal action. Apple said Digital Playground had infringed on its designs by importing, marketing, and offering cloned iPhones which gave “the same overall impression as Apple’s registered design.” Rimmer settled with Apple out of court; as a result of the agreement he must stop selling iPhone clones, send Apple his remaining stock, reveal how many he imported, offered, and sold, as well as revealing his supplier.

Faced with pressure from several Canadian gay/lesbian rights organizations including Stop Murder Music, iTunes has pulled select songs, and in some cases entire albums, from certain artists whose lyrics were said to be homophobic. “Boom Bye Bye” by Buju Banton, as well as other selections from artists T.O.K. and Elephant Man have been removed from the iTunes Store. Akim Larcher, founder of Canada-based Stop Murder Music, said “this is an historic victory for the LGBT community here in Canada and in the Caribbean. iTunes is exercising its corporate responsibility by pulling this murder music and raising the bar for other retailers and distributors to do the same.” [via Broward-Palm Beach New Times]

  1. “iTunes has pulled select songs, and in some cases entire albums, from certain artists whose lyrics were said to be homophobic.”

    Hmmm… sounds a lot like a book burning to me. Just how many people does it take to intimidate iTunes into pulling artists who views are different than mine?

    I thought tolerance was about allowing ALL views to be heard. iTunes doesn’t seem to be tolerant of the intolerant. So is that even tolerance? Sounds more like prejudice. If you want free speech in a free world, you’re going to have to tolerate the ignorance of homophobes.

    I don’t like the Nazi web sites that are out there, but I would hate to see any human prevented from speaking his or her mind. I’m not disappointed to see the above named artists gone from the iTunes store. I’ve never even heard of them. But I am disappointed that iTunes would cave into the pressure of any special interest group. This is America… it’s still legal to speak your mind. If you Canadians want to let your government dictate the words that are allowed to leave your mouths, go right ahead. It wouldn’t be the first government in history to make such an attempt.

    “We hate hatters!” Doesn’t something in that idea sound contradictory?

  2. No, it sounds like someone is taking a stand against filth.
    Let them sell the CDs.
    America and all.
    But if I ran Apple, I’d pull it too.
    Good for them.
    Stand for nothing or fall for anything.
    ‘Tis true.
    I’m tired of the smut and the peddlers.

  3. Advocating the injury or murder of people based on their sexual orientation is repugnant, and companies such as Apple are under no obligation to give such advocates a platform. It’s not book burning; it is a company’s choice not to profit from or distribute content that has little to no place in a civilized society.

  4. “Advocating the injury or murder of people based on their sexual orientation is repugnant”

    WOW! That’s the kind of content they removed? I didn’t know. I’m going to Google the above named artists to see if that’s exactly what they advocate and I’ll comment later on my findings. Like I said, I’ve never heard of these “artists”.

  5. Well I Googled the names mentioned above and read some of the lyrics and….


    I had no idea such songs existed. Yes… good on you iTunes!

  6. As a gay guy and as an appreciator of all arts, I’m a little disappointed in Apple. I’d rather give an artist a leeway to express themselves, even if it runs contrary to my beliefs – even if the message is, “Kill gays.” Because often the message isn’t so simple. Often the artist is asking the listener to consider an unpopular opinion – just for that – just to consider an unpopular opinion – not necessarily THAT PARTICULAR unpopular opinion.

    No, what I’m more upset about on iTunes are the reviewers of works like Brokeback Mountain that say things like, “Guys kissing. Eeeeeew.” Because that is true, unfettered ignorance, and it’s allowed as a real opinion of the artistic work.

  7. “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

    Blocking sales of objectionable (my some) content may seem right, but censorship in any form never is.

    Good thing I don’t buy anything from the iTuns Store anyway.

  8. Mike M. I’m a little confused by your remarks. First you say that “tolerance is about allowing ALL views to be heard”, but then, upon discovering just how repugnant the views are, you pronounce “good on [sic] iTunes”. Either you agree that tolerance is about allowing ALL views, or you don’t. The Supreme court has already told us the legal limits on free speech (time, place, and manner).

    But the problem is that this has nothing to do with free speech. Apple is a Corporation. Apple is not held to the same standards as government or governmental bodies.

    Having said all that I posted above, I find the views expressed by these bands equally repugnant, but Apple is headed down a slippery slope when it starts deciding what is or is not repugnant for its audience. Remember, there was a time when Elvis’s hips were considered repugnant. I’d prefer to let the listening public decide in an open market what is worthy of purchasing, rather than have Apple make that decision for us. I certainly wouldn’t have purchased any of this music and I know that most iLounge visitors wouldn’t either. I just think the message sent by the entire iTunes audience would be more powerful than the message sent by Apple itself.

  9. I have lived in such a society for all of my childhood and my early adulthood so I totally understand the sentiments behind the song and can understand Apple’s decision to pull such music form it’s store.

    In case you don’t know, the in the song “Boom Bye Bye”, the chorus goes “Boom Bye Bye inna battybway Head” which translates to mean “Gun shot (boom bye bye is the sound the gun makes) to the head of gays.”

  10. Apple, as a private entity, is free to do what it wishes. I can appreciate the company’s desire to not let an artist utilize its vehicle to profit from violent propaganda. For those like the Doctor, who would tell us that “censorship…never is [right],” I submit that the greater wrong is in allowing a reprobate like Buju Banton to use your “store” as a venue for spreading repugnant and inexcusable sentiment.

    This is not some sort of clandestine, underhanded form of government rights-trampling. It’s a corporation distancing itself from an artist with vicious intent. The self-righteous posturing for free speech is absurd.

  11. Adding to the Reductio ad absurdum started by #13 and #15…

    The community of 1960’s-era ad executives is offended by “Mad Men” and wants it pulled from iTunes.

    The mad scientist community is offended by the opening credit sequence of “Robot Chicken” and wants it pulled from iTunes.

    The android community is offended by its portrayal in “Battlestar Galactica” and wants it pulled from iTunes.

    Flippy and others that support Apple’s move: This is the “slippery slope” to which #9 referred.

  12. I’m going to go out on limb here and say that songs about anybody, regardless of their sexual preference, are tasteless.

    Good thing there’s never been a song about killing a heterosexual. The outcry would be enormous.

  13. Apple is wrong in censoring! I get so sick of hearing about how the “gay” community feels and how they have special privileges over everyone else. Gimme a frickin’ break. “Wrong” has it right. If we had the right to pull stuff every time we were offended…I think there would be a GREAT DEAL of stuff not available on iTunes! Check out some rap lyrics or how about Sweeney Todd– that has a great deal of “killing” in it! Gimme a break Apple!!! Your caving to the whining LGBT out there…and they are a whiny bunch indeed.

  14. I’m glad that Apple has pulled all offensive content from iTunes. You know, all the rap songs that degrade women, talk about committing crimes like murder, rape, suicide, theft and illegal drug use, etc. Oh wait, what’s this?


  15. The Doctor’s sarcasm = epic fail.

    Apple’s move isn’t a “slippery slope.” It’s no different than certain music stores refusing to sell Body Count’s album with “Cop Killer” in the early 1990s. To sell and proliferate merchandise that extols acts of violence against a large segment of the population is reprehensible and irresponsible of a private corporation that cares about its reputation.

    Maybe you didn’t learn that in “medical school.” All the panties-wadding over the decision to yank a handful of fringe songs is solely for the purpose of being contrarian. If Apple announced that the sale of homophobic content would continue unfettered, you’d complain about the corporate callousness and greed inherent in that decision.

  16. “Mike M. I’m a little confused by your remarks. First you say that “tolerance is about allowing ALL views to be heard”, but then, upon discovering just how repugnant the views are, you pronounce “good on [sic] iTunes”. Either you agree that tolerance is about allowing ALL views, or you don’t. The Supreme court has already told us the legal limits on free speech (time, place, and manner).”

    My first comment was my knee jerk reaction to this news. However there are several things to consider. Comment #11 is exactly what I wanted to say in this thread.

    “Apple, as a private entity, is free to do what it wishes.”

    iTunes is not a government entity nor is it funded with taxpayer money. Therefore they are entirely free to decide what they do and do not sell.

    As far as tolerance goes… it’s one thing to say you disagree with someone’s lifestyle… it’s an entirely different thing to threaten to kill them because of it. I’m a heterosexual myself, I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I’m free to express that. But I would never threaten to kill anyone… period!

    The music that was removed was trash and it belongs in a trashcan, not on iTunes.

  17. I was surprised to see my quote on the front page – I figured a good deal of flaming would follow inside, and I wasn’t disappointed…oh wait, I was (am)
    Look up the word “censorship” for those that the public schools have failed.
    Apple took a stand.
    I happen to work for a company that doesn’t yet have the same standards it seems.
    I work in the music business.
    I’m repulsed at what even “we” put out to make a dime.
    I stand by my earlier post.
    Lame attempts at humor notwithstanding, at least some here get it.
    Some, as always in a public forum, are downright frightening.

    Carry on…

  18. Now what do we do about songs like “I shot the sheriff”? I have Clapton’s version of that on my iPhone as we speak. Is that not advocating violence against a uniformed officer? And how many rap songs advocate violence against police officers? Perhaps this is a slippery slope.

  19. Flippy Hambone. This is in fact a slippery slope. I disagreed with it in the ’90s with Cop Killer (which by the way, people were forced to download on P2P – and probably haven’t listened to since). That’s exactly the point though. I don’t want to download a homophobic song, but I want that to be my choice. I don’t want it to be Apple’s decision. No one is supporting such lyrics (except, perhaps spudtak with his naive and hateful remarks about “special privileges”. Apparently he views the constitutional protection granted all Americans as “special privileges” when the gay population wants them too). What many of us are saying is that we find having the decision made for us just as reprehensible as the hateful lyrics themselves.

  20. It’s not a slippery slope when a corporation decides to stop selling a product because it is, in the view of that corporation, a bad product. This is a business decision, not made in a vacuum and not with some paternalistic intent to rob the poor consumer of his freedom of choice.

    Grocery stores yank things off shelves and you don’t even know it. Retail establishments drop brands all the time, and nary a peep. Intellectual property is just that: property. All of you who would crow openly about your precious rights being trampled would’ve never known a thing if Apple had simply never sold this documented bigotry at all, but now that it is removed and lightly publicized, suddenly you all are fighting for your exalted principles.

  21. Further, identify the sort of hideous crime is Apple committing by telling you the following: if you wish to download this particular song, you will simply have to do so elsewhere. Wal-Mart sells edited CDs; Target sells the unedited variety. You still have your choice.

  22. The bottom line: Apple has the right to pull any content off iTunes Store that they don’t want to promote. Done.

    To respond to all the sarcastic “I’m XXXX so I want XXXX pulled off iTunes” examples: Apple is in no way OBLIGATED to pull content based on user complaints. If the execs at Apple don’t want content in iTunes, they don’t have to put it there – in the same way they don’t have to put porn in the videos section. It’s Apple’s store – they can stock it with whatever they want. That’s not censorship in the true sense of the word.

  23. I’ve never claimed that Apple was committing a crime. What they are doing is perfectly legal. But there are plenty of legal actions that I find offensive. The fact is most people are fine with the decision because they find the views expressed by these “artists” offensive. However, the concern arises over the fact that we don’t like a corporation deciding what we do and do not find offensive for us. In an earlier post I cautioned readers to remember that Elvis’s hips were found offensive at one time. Flippy you point out that we “would’ve never known a thing if Apple had simply never sold the documented bigotry at all”. I believe that is the very injury about which we are complaining. It allows Apple to be the arbiter of what is art, rather than allowing the consumer to decide. We would never have been aware. This is all very easy and simple when it’s a band universally perceived as offensive, but what happens when it’s a band YOU like?

  24. I believe we should let the market decide. If the listeners don’t purchase it, then Apple has every right to pull the artist – for the very same reason that “Grocery stores yank things off shelves and you don’t even know it. Retail establishments drop brands all the time, and nary a peep” – there is no demand for the product. However, when there is demand for a product, but the Grocery store, retail establishment, or internet media provider decides that product is offensive, all consumers are injured. In order to remain open and let the market decide, we have to be exposed to some offensive nasty stuff, but that’s one of the costs of living in a free society. One I’m willing to pay.

  25. All the posturing and pontificating means nothing. Apple took the initiative to remove a universally objectionable and borderline dangerous piece of “art” from its inventory. This was done at the risk of alienating two types of consumers: (1) those with an unhealthy degree of anti-gay vitriol, and (2) those that thump their chests about free speech (inapplicable in a private context) and principles. I suspect it’s fine for Apple to risk losing these buyers. Again, big deal.

    The corporation is doing what it feels is responsible and respectful in this regard. We have companies that almost never act in this manner, and yet no outcry happens until an online music store pulls a 99-cent, presumably unpopular track because it doesn’t want the stigma. Meanwhile one guy griping about it says he doesn’t buy from iTunes anyway, presumably because he prefers complaining and trolling instead of making a constructive comment of his own volition.

  26. Further, this argument about Apple attempting to be the “arbiter of art” is ludicrous. They jerked a song or two. They don’t have rights to other artists. They offer a lot of content, but not everything. And more than any other thing, what waters down the “arbiter” argument is the fact that they are a STORE, a mere part of a capitalist media distribution framework, which puts its inventory out for sale. Other competing entities may still distribute the filth in question, but Apple is taking the stance against it.

    Apple sells. The people buy. If this makes the seller an arbiter of art, I guess the buyers are accordingly artists? Not an applicable description whatsoever.

  27. You apparently don’t know what the word “arbiter” means. Look it up. I can’t continue to make my point with you because your arguments don’t respond to my comments.

  28. There is a difference between a song being offensive to some, and a song that is advocating murder of a particular group of society.

    It is even more alarming considering the high profile that these artists have in some communities. We’re not just talking about some one hit wonder or crackpot making just one song. We are talking about very succesfull artists with many albums under their belts.

  29. Not a particularly rational or compelling response. I’m surprised, given that I find favor with most of your comments.

  30. That you resort to accusations of misunderstanding or being non-responsive proves your “argument” is fallacy. A corporation preventing an artist from profiting from inflammatory, violent content through its retail store is not judging per se, but advising buyers to find another venue for Mr. Banton’s bigotry. In clerk-speak, “We don’t carry that. Try going to [fill in music retailer].” Whoa. You really hosed us, Apple. We’re taking our dollar and my high-mindedness to emusic.

    A company made a business decision, inherently no different than any other, presumably with an eye toward the bottom line, not toward others’ artistic sensibilities. Apple isn’t censoring but managing inventory and distribution. Meanwhile, you act as if your rights are being callously bludgeoned, which is illogical.

  31. I’m all for free speech but there are limits. For instance, you can’t yell fire in a crowded movie theatre, nor can you discuss bombs while flying in an aircraft. For that matter, air carriers don’t show movies with plane crashes in them. This falls right in line with those other examples which we have all accepted for years. A corporation can’t in good conscience sell music that is sold to impressionable teenagers that encourages someone to kill a particular group. (And yes, I would extend that to the cop killer songs). That’s not censorship, that’s common sense. And looking out for the safety of others.

    And as for post #30 where it’s stated that “we have to be exposed to some offensive nasty stuff, but that’s one of the costs of living in a free society. One I’m willing to pay.” Oh really? What if your kid was gay and got popped in the head by a gunshot one day by a punk that listened to this kind of trash music and was encouraged to actually do it. Would THAT be a price you were willing to pay?

    Bottom line: Music that advocates killing of anyone has no place in our society.

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