Does Cinemax’s iPad app violate Apple’s no-porn policy?

cinemax max go ipad

Anyone who’s ever subscribed to Cinemax knows that one of its biggest draws is not the availability of Hollywood movies, but the softcore movies and TV shows available on the network. With the recent launch of its iPad app, Cinemax is also making those titles available for mobile viewing on the tablet device. But the inclusion of these movies seems to go against a very prominent anti-porn policy put in place by Apple and CEO Steve Jobs.

Dubbed “Skinemax” by many, the programmer typically has several hours of titillating titles interspersed between big budget Hollywood films during the late night hours. It’s not unusual for shows like Lingerie or Co-Ed Confidential to appear alongside movies like The A-Team after midnight.

The good news for Cinemax subscribers is that — at least for now — they no longer have to wait until late night or early morning to peruse that type of content: The Max Go iPad app includes a very prominently placed “Max After Dark” tab, which makes about a dozen softcore movie titles and another dozen TV series available for viewing anytime on the go. Those movies include titles like The Hills Have Thighs and Bikini Jones and the Temple of Eros.

Apple and CEO Steve Jobs have historically taken a hard line against pornography being available through native iOS apps. In an email exchange with Gawker’s Ryan Tate last year, Jobs said that the iPad would offer users “freedom from porn.” And in a Q&A session after the launch of iOS 4, Jobs told reporters that porn was one reason Apple wouldn’t allow unsigned or unapproved apps onto iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad.

You know, there’s a porn store for Android. You can download nothing but porn. You can download porn, your kids can download porn. That’s a place we don’t want to go – so we’re not going to go there.

Apple has worked hard to enforce that policy, removing applications from its App Store that it considered “overtly sexual,” including those that did little but offer up photos of partial nudity. It has also kept big name publishers of girly mags from making nude pictorials available on the App Store. Playboy is one example: After publishing an iPad app that didn’t include any nudity, the magazine publisher bypassed the app store altogether with an HTML5 web app that provided access to its library of nude photos.

Cable networks like HBO have never shied away from racy content, and viewers of shows like Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones have almost come to expect full-frontal female nudity and simulated intercourse as part of the story telling. And those shows have been available on the iPad as part of its HBO Go app for months.

But porn is like art: You know it when you see it. Breaking up the action of True Blood with occasional nudity is different from breaking up the nudity of Lust at First Bite with occasional dialogue. And a quick perusal of the Cinemax iPad app proved, to me at least, that’s exactly the type of thing to expect from most of the “Max After Dark” content. After all, viewers aren’t watching Bikini Frankenstein because they’re interested in the story.

The Max Go app comes with a warning that it contains adult material when you download it, and there are parental controls to ensure kids aren’t able to access some of the real racy stuff. Even so, it’s not clear how Max Go got approved as a native app after Apple has worked so diligently to remove apps containing partial nudity and kept uncensored apps like Playboy off the App Store. Will it remain on the App Store, softcore porn and all, or will some modified version of the app need to be released once Apple catches wind of what’s really available in “Max After Dark?”

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