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It may be the season of good-will, but one naughty iPhone-developer has decided to play the role of Scrooge in the iTunes App Store.
Movies, created by French developer, Olivier Bernal, went live at the App Store on December 19. The app, retailing at $2.99, allows users to grab essential information on the latest box-office releases.
The icon for Movies clearly features a watermark from iStockphoto, a royalty free image library, implying that rather than purchase the master image, Bernal has pilfered the preview sample.
This particular iStockphoto license (including the ‘Electronic Items for Resale’ addendum) is available for 115 credits. At 95 cents per iStockphoto credit, this would be a one-off cost of $109.25. Bernal would therefore need to generate only 37 sales of Movies to cover the cost of the image license.
Achieving just 37 sales is hardly a difficult objective when you also consider that, in order to maximize the potential customer-base for his app, Bernal has created several iterations using the same icon, including Cinema and Cinema UK.
It seems that this may not be the first time Bernal has pilfered from iStockphoto. There are two more highly suspect app icons — TV Shows and Week Number of the Year. The TV Shows icon features a white diagonal line, quite possibly from an iStock Photo watermark. The latter of the pair, clearly uses an iStock Photo sample, titled Calendar – icon idea.
It’s not as immediately obvious as our prime suspect, but enlarging the app icon and then comparing it to the iStockphoto sample image, the original watermark is easily visible.
Sites such as iStockphoto provide a valuable service to organizations with limited design resources, allowing independent creatives to distribute royalty-free visual assets at reasonable rates. It’s therefore somewhat disappointing to see independent developers effectively stealing — surely they should understand the value of content generated by fellow independents?
Furthermore, setting aside development time and cost, distributing via the App Store is hardly prohibitive in terms of initial outlay: Apple charges a one-off fee to developers of $99. It seems that either saving a few bucks or just downright laziness on Bernal’s part led him to grab the sample imagery from iStockphoto.
The question is, now that Bernal has been called out on his immoral icon antics, what will his next move be? It’ll be most interesting to see how he handles the designers whose creations he has illicitly profited from; ideally, after a hasty apology, Bernal will be compensating them for their contribution to his App Store products.
Note that we’ve tried to reach Bernal for comment on the story but have yet to hear back. We assume he was too busy shoveling a mountain of coal from his stocking, stealing bonbons from children and kicking puppies.
UPDATE: We heard back from Mr. Bernal:
For [your] information, I bought the right to use the pictures this morning. You were right, at the beginning I first started with nothing and can’t afford to pay for the pictures, it’s perfectly normal to pay if I intend to continue to use it.
He says the updated, non-watermarked icons will be implemented with the next updates to the applications sometime in January.