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Ask HN: Do Amazon own all of my apps now?
18 points by benjamind on May 19, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 6 comments
Just after the Amazon AppStore launched I decided to test the waters with a free version of one of my apps. The app has done fairly well on the Android Market so far, but I perhaps misjudged the type of users attracted to the Amazon AppStore. The app is immature to say the least, and hasn't gone down very well with Amazon users thus far. But that didn't matter since my main aim was to test out how the Amazon store worked, and whether or not I would use it in the future.

So today I decided to remove my app, since it isn't doing well there and reflects poorly on my work going forward. I contacted Amazon through their help system and asked for the app to be removed. I received a response informing me that the app must be removed from all other similar stores in order for them to remove it from theirs.

I'll post the full email if someone wants to take a look at it, but they pointed me to section 3.a. of the developer agreement:

3.a. Delivery Commitment for Apps. You will deliver electronically to us and continue to make available during the Term all versions of all software applications, games or other digital products (including any special or collector’s editions) (i) that are designed for the Platform, (ii) for which you have the rights required under this Agreement, and (iii) that are the same versions and editions (except as otherwise provided in this Agreement) that you or your affiliates make available directly or indirectly to any Similar Service....

This reads to me like Amazon want all my apps, and won't let me remove them from their store unless I remove them from everywhere! Am I reading this wrong? Or have Amazon laid claim to all the Android apps I've made or ever will make as long as I maintain an account on their AppStore? I'm happy to terminate the contract, which appears to invalidate this clause, but I had hoped to use the store for more useful applications better targeted at the Amazon market in the future so would rather not if I do not have to. But this agreement reads to me as very heavy handed.

Any advice?

Now that's an interesting clause that I'm sure some lawyers would like to beat up on. IANAL, though.

EDIT: I should have done more than exclaim. I can understand where this clause is coming from. Amazon does not want business partners giving other stores exclusives (even though they just did that with some Android games). This is their Level Playing Field Clause. A similar thing happens with eBooks and pricing. If Amazon finds your book for less on another store, they will price match it or even price it for less. They can't, of course, pull a clause like the above with eBook publishers because Kindle is not a universal file format. I'd say you'd have to terminate the agreement to get out of it. IANAL, again.

I agree with your conclusion, and understand the reasoning behind the clause. I just don't understand how it makes good sense for them to force me into a situation where I must choose between having an app in an inappropriate marketplace garnering negative reviews or having no apps on said marketplace at all.

What if suddenly your app gains traction somewhere else? Then people search for it like mad at Amazon's store and don't find it. Amazon gets blamed, not you. [TYPO EDIT]

You just hit the tip of the iceberg, see http://igdaboard.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/important-advisory...

HT: commenter Patrick Maupin on esr's blog

Short answer: Amazon does not own your apps.

Long answer: Amazon does have a right to continue selling/distributing any apps you have provided to it for the duration of the "Term".

So, this all depends on how the "Term" is defined in the developer agreement.

Sadly it appears so.

I had a very emphatic "Either cancel your contract, or keep your apps on the store" response from their helpdesk yesterday.

This is a shame, such heavy handed tactics will keep myself and a great many other developers (see billswifts link below) away from their store.

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