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Apple bans Ulysses webcomic due to nudity

Apple banned a webcomic adaptation of the classic novel Ulysses due to depictions of nudity from its iPad store. The Daily Finance notes the irony that the novel was banned in the United States back in 1920.

The irony is rich: Ulysses was banned in the U.S. upon publication in 1920 when The Little Review published an excerpt featuring masturbation. The book only saw the light of day when its American publisher, Random House, arranged for a copy to be smuggled out of Europe and seized by a customs official in 1932, acting as the basis for a test case to challenge the country’s obscenity laws.

The following year, U.S. District Judge John M. Woolsey ruled Ulysses was not pornographic, and therefore could not be obscene. The ruling was upheld in 1934 by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rob Berry and Josh Levitas opted to rework some of the pages and resubmit where it is now available. The uncensored webcomic can be viewed online on their website or you can download the free approved version from the App store.

Community Comments

#1 Garey Mckee
June/15/2010
@ 8:18 am

Apple makes me uneasy. To want to control the delivery system upon which media is distributed is one thing, but to also want to control the media content itself is dangerous ground.

#2 Rob Tracy
June/15/2010
@ 4:20 pm

Apple is creating their own insular internet much in the way America Online did back in the 90’s. I was ideologically opposed to America Online controlling what content I can and cannot see and I’m ideologically opposed to Apple doing the same thing.

Eventually, just like America Online people will get sick of a corporation deciding what they can see and hear and either a better product will come along or someone will figure out a permanent solution to breaking out of Steve Jobs puritanical prison into the wider internet. Either way, Apple on top is a temporary condition and as long as they choose to regulate what their users can and cannot see based upon content rather than quality I won’t be buying their products.

#3 dave nelson
June/16/2010
@ 9:11 am

Meh. I’m sure approving and distributing an app with penises just isn’t worth the headache brought on by the parents that give their kids access to the WWW and then complain about the content. I’m sure the PR of getting rejected didn’t hurt Ulysses’ web traffic any.

Apple is in the happy position to be big enough to seem like a public service, but they can do what they want. I agree with Rob that others will come along and fill the gap, the only difference is that Apple controls more of the pieces (harware, OS, distribution) than AOL did back in the day, so competing will be trickier.

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