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In this interview with Rob Sheridan (@rob_sheridan), Nine Inch Nails’ Artistic Director, Rob discusses the experience of getting the rejection letter from Apple, and what effect it has on the band’s plans to build community applications on the iPhone platform. You’ll hear Sheridan express an uneasiness that Apple can act as judge and jury without providing any transparency into the approval process. Rob spoke with me from Florida where Nine Inch Nails is getting ready for a tour with Jane’s Addiction that kicks off on May 9th in Tampa, FL.
What is a headlining, often controversial industrial rock band to do when nameless censors at Apple decide that content downloaded by an iPhone application contains “objectionable content”? Yesterday, the world found out, as Trent Reznor (@trent_reznor) tweeted:
When a band like NiN encounters arbitrary censorship, they raise the issue in the public forum. In this case Trent Reznor tweeted and blogged about the issue expressing his dissatisfaction with the decision and drawing attention to the fact that the “objectionable content” in question is a song named “The Downward Spiral” currently available via the iTunes store. While comparing Apple’s obscenity standards to Walmart’s war against profanity, Reznor pointed to similar inconsistencies in a previous round of censorship:
I can understand if you want the moral posturing of not having any ‘indecent’ material for sale–but you could literally turn around 180 degrees from where the NIN record would be and purchase the film ‘Scarface’ completely uncensored, or buy a copy of Grand Theft Auto where you can be rewarded for beating up prostitutes. How does that make sense?
While Apple’s rejection of an application based on arbitrary and inconsistent standards, is nothing new, the attention being paid to this particular rejection is significant and could prompt Apple to add more structure and transparency to the iPhone application approval process. On Monday, Aidan Malley of AppleInsider reported that Apple may be prepared to allow explicit content with the introduction of more capable parental controls in the iPhone 3.0 OS update.
If you are wondering what all the fuss is about, here is a walkthrough of the NIN:access application from Trent Reznor and Rob Sheridan which was posted by the ninofficial YouTube user: