Is Apple So Afraid of Remote Chances of Liability for Offensive Speech?

I made a case that the mere existing of Apple’s remote kill switch in their iPhone application store may make them feel like they are a big fat target for takedown notices.  Sadly, it is totally conceivable that someone using the Eucalyptus e-book reader would issue a complaint to Apple as the distribution channel when realizing they could access adult materials through the application as part of the collection at Project Gutenberg.  The whole notion is preposterous and deflated, easily, with rhetorically comparisons to accessing illicit materials with the iPhone email client or web browser.

In the case of Eucalyptus, Apple apparently thought better of their rejection.  Judging by this ridiculous story from the EFF, they are still rejecting applications for the most tenuous connection to objectionable content.  The EFF conditioned its approvale of the use of its mark such that the application’s creator had to make it clear the application didn’t originate from the EFF.  I think that is pretty standard practice when a trademark owner grants such usage.  Isn’t that enough to break any tenuous chain of liability that might even remotely affect Apple?

The EFF post points out the real tragedy stories like these are bring to light:

iPhone owners who don’t want Apple playing the role of language police for their software should have the freedom to go elsewhere. This is precisely why EFF has asked the Copyright Office to grant an exemption to the DMCA for jailbreaking iPhones.

There were a rash of stories recently related to this very issue.  Application developers have started using easter eggs in their software to route around this censorship by Apple.  It isn’t even the consumer right that the EFF is speaking to but also the desire of the publishers using the channel.  Something has to give and let’s hope it gives soon while the problem is relatively more manageable.