New York Times has Pulse RSS reader pulled from App Store

The Pulse RSS reader for iPad, featured just yesterday during Steve Jobs' WWDC 2010 keynote, is reportedly being removed from the iTunes App Store following a copyright complaint from the New York Times/The Boston Globe.

The gist of their demand letter is that Pulse comes pre-loaded with the RSS feed and features it in screen shots, is a paid app, and thus commercially using their RSS feeds, and that it reframes the and websites, both of which the New York Times Company says is in violation of their copyright.

Pulse was written by two Stanford grad students, whom we're guessing have far fewer legal resources than the New York Times Company, but are now in a position where they have to answer the copyright violation charge and/or modify their app to no longer violate the copyright.

Now, Pulse wasn't scraping or stealing RSS content in the traditionally frowned-upon way -- they're an RSS reader like many, many others both on the desktop and on mobile devices. Was the only difference it's high profile thanks to WWDC and a previous feature in the New York Times itself? If so, what does this mean for other RSS readers?

[Boom Town, image via New York Times]

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

New York Times has Pulse RSS reader pulled from App Store


Screw the NYT.. They are obviously technologically inept. I guess I won't be renewing my subscription later this month.

It would have been smarter to do the reverse: encourage Pulse to show the NYT and lead to a paid solution. OR, why not just buy and support pulse as an enhancement for Times readers.
In general for all their whining the Times seems to be moving slowly to actually get users to Pay for their content. The NYT iPad app is the ultimate example. Many users would like to see the whole times in there (and are willing to pay). Yet while the WSJ has already gotten the entire paper onto the iPad the times seems to be moving slowly or not at all to do the same. All this while customers are banging down the door to give them money for digital solutions.
They NYT needs to start making gutsy moves to build digital revenue rather than just trying to stall the inevitable and not satisfy their user base.

"If so, what does this mean for other RSS readers?"
It means do not pre-load publications on paid applications. Let the user select their own choice of publications and there is no copyright hassle.

Shame they had to go and do that. I understand why, but they could have just asked the developer not to preload the feeds anymore. Instead, they went the bad press route and now just look like douchebags.

Pulse: "Look how easy it is to access content on the New York Times."
NY Times: "Stop looking at me. In fact, screw you Pulse for looking at me and making other people look at me. Apple, please pull down this app for making us look relevant. We have a reputation to uphold."

People are focusing on the wrong issue here. Yes, this is a stupid position for the NYT to take, but why did Apple have to go along with it, mere hours after Jobs himself was singing Pulse's praises? Kara Swisher excuses Apple as having no choice in the matter, but they certainly did; there is literally no way the NYT would have even gotten an injunction, even on the off chance they had the guts to file for one. Moreover, if the issue is of creative control - if one takes a moral position that the NYT has the right to distribut and format their content as they see fit, - one has to wonder why Pulse cannot point readers to the NYat site, while Apple itself can trumpet a Safari feature that strips ads (and revenue) from every publication on the web. It seems again that Apple, this time at the behest of impotent NYT saber-rattling, is again enforcing rules that are not documented in their dev agreement, and which they have no intention of following themselves.
Apple's arbitrary exercise of power, not the thrashings of an adrift media dinosaur, is the story here.

That's a shame - it's an excellent RSS reader - my favorite RSS experience on the iPad so far. Hopefully this doesn't sour them completely on the app store experience and they resubmit minus the NYT inclusion.

With all this discussion, I'm reminded of the challenges with RSS: information overload, limited discovery of new sources, etc. If you've tried RSS readers and are still looking for a great way to get personalized news without having to manage a list of RSS subscriptions, I suggest checking out my company, YourVersion
You just tell YourVersion the topics you care about and it finds the latest, relevant news, blogs, tweets, etc. tailored to your interests. We have a free iPhone app at Our free iPad app should be available soon as well. We’d love for you to give our product a try and provide us with some feedback!

Kind of senseless to get rid of free publicity. The NYTimes needs to rethink its copyright policies.