iPad app removal could leave family unable to communicate with daughter

Meet Maya Nieder, who relies on the app which has been removed

Speak for Yourself is, or was, an extended device for Apple's iPad. The application became notable online for its significance in the lives of one family, the Nieders. The Nieder family's daughter Maya was born with a disability rendering her unable to speak normally. For the family, the Speak for Yourself hardware proved to be a godsend, letting them hear their daughter for the first time in their lives.

Now, the Speak for Yourself tools shall never be updated again. Why? Patents. In this day and age everything seems to come down to how many patents you have and whether you can use them to metaphorically curb-stomp other companies without being punished for it yourself. A large, highly profitable company sued the start-up business behind Speak for Yourself in March, and this is a common occurrence in the world of business.

Speak for Yourself was the lifeline for Maya Nieder and her family's hope for talking to their daughter. The only word four-year-old Maya is able to say is 'done'. While this word can be immensely useful in conversation it is of limited use when it is the only word you can use. Maya was two and a half when the family purchased an iPad and stumbled upon Speak for Yourself. They say the application's simplicity was invaluable, and it was robust enough to even serve her into adulthood.

Even Maya enjoyed the application, and no doubt, so too did her family, who could actually see their child learning to talk, even if only through a digital interface. The company responsible for the application was then taken into the typical legal battles that you hear so frequently about by two major companies in the market; Semantic Compaction Systems and Prentke Romich Company.

A more recent picture of Maya along with the iPad that has proven invaluable to her

The two companies argue that the app infringes on their patents and neither company would benefit from letting it remain on the market. Prentke Romich can make up to $9,000 on a single communication device, whereas they could make a few hundred from a mere iPad app; the hardware profits clearly do come above software.

The Nieder family met representatives from Prentke Romich Company and Dynavox in order to explore and sample potential devices on the market, since there was the feeling that an iPad app might not be sufficient for the future. None of these devices worked for Maya and it would take several years before Prentke Romich's device would even be suitable. After much research, the family learned that there were no plans for an iPad app coming in the future.

The cruel irony comes in the form of Prentke Romich's tagline: "We Believe Everyone Deserves a Voice". Except you, obviously. You should have bought a device from us instead. This information all comes from a blog post in March though there has since been an update to the situation.

Maya's progression with the app has been remarkable during time gap, and she has been able to learn phrases and requests; for a child of only four, her progress had been remarkable, especially for someone who had been able to speak for only around 18 months.

Can you guess what happened on Monday, June 4th? Speak for Yourself disappeared from the App Store, despite the companies holding the lawsuit receiving monetary damages. Once you've gotten damages, how can you go a little further? Simple: you contact Apple and inform them the app infringes on patents. As is so typical of faceless companies, the need for profit came first and therefore competition had to be quashed.

The Nieder family also feel concerned about a much more sinister threat: could an application be remotely pulled from an iPad? As it is the app is installed on Maya's iPad and downloaded to their iTunes account, but anything even as minor as an iOS update could render the app worthless. It was built to take advantage of the current operating system and if problems arise the team cannot do much about it. They cannot distribute code or bug fixes for compatibility, leaving Maya without a voice again.

It would be intriguing to see Apple remotely pulling applications like this, for it could cause outcry from sectors of the internet. If it was to happen, the company could be accused of adopting an excessively totalitarian control. Of course, this view does not reflect reality due to the fact that Apple have no prior history of having pulled applications remotely from devices. If they were to do so it would mark a first for the company, excluding when they delete applications containing malicious code or blatant copies of existing apps on the App Store. If this is not the case - and it looks overwhelmingly likely it isn't going to be - then the app should be downloadable still using the family's iTunes account and its purchase history, which should continue to list the application even if it is no longer available to buy.

The reality is harsh, and it could leave Maya without a voice in the future. What if the app isn't compatible with a newer iOS build? Don't update the iPad obviously, but how do you know if it is compatible or not?

Source: Blog Post #1 | Blog Post #2

Images: All images are from the family's blog.

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If it were me I'd look into paying someone to code a replacement, & potentially future updates if they didn't make enough money from sales to other people once the app was finished & made available -- the app wasn't developed specifically for Maya, so the original devs thought there was enough of a market to make it worth their while. I'd imagine with a bit of media attention offers to code a replacement for free would also come in. Worried about legal moves shutting that replacement down too? Contact/contract devs in another country that's not necessarily friendly to patent & (C) disputes. Worried about costs? Set up a donation web site. On the plus side as Maya grows/matures so could the software, incorporating new, better features.

At any rate, when there's an obstacle in your path complaining about it is likely both understandable & useless... you've got 2 choices: figure out how to get past that obstacle or turn around & go in another direction.

Typical Apple is evil bull****. As evil as every other company.

Even with a killswitch having a backup of the app allows you to reinstall it. Someone's patent dispute is not down to Apple.

Septimus said,
Typical Apple is evil bull****. As evil as every other company.

Even with a killswitch having a backup of the app allows you to reinstall it. Someone's patent dispute is not down to Apple.

Whats it got to do with Apple? Did you read the article? Clearly not!

I'm so tired of everyone and their personal crusades. Wahhhh they took down some stupid ipad app I was using. I have some advice. Put down all your stupid gadgets, walk out your front door and get a life. Did Stephen Hawking need an ipad? Did Bill Gates??

I also wonder if the OP Article creator is on the Win/Android bandwagon praising google for removing apps, yet in this article bashing and calling totalitarian control even though apple to this day Has not removed an App Store App from devices

Hell-In-A-Handbasket said,
I also wonder if the OP Article creator is on the Win/Android bandwagon praising google for removing apps, yet in this article bashing and calling totalitarian control even though apple to this day Has not removed an App Store App from devices

I use Windows and an Android phone, yes. I don't praise Google for removing applications either. Unless the application genuinely needs to be removed then I see no reason to let it remain. Was this application one that needed removed? Going by the patent law, yes. I simply highlighted a complaint I've seen used before. No harm intended. If Apple have not yet removed an app via some form of killswitch then I doubt they'll do it now. In short, I'm not out to proclaim Apple the enemy of freedom and liberty or anything like that. I'm simply observing upon a viewpoint I've seen before.

Paul Ferson said,

I use Windows and an Android phone, yes. I don't praise Google for removing applications either. Unless the application genuinely needs to be removed then I see no reason to let it remain. Was this application one that needed removed? Going by the patent law, yes. I simply highlighted a complaint I've seen used before. No harm intended. If Apple have not yet removed an app via some form of killswitch then I doubt they'll do it now. In short, I'm not out to proclaim Apple the enemy of freedom and liberty or anything like that. I'm simply observing upon a viewpoint I've seen before.


It's removed from the APP STORE not the DEVICE, your not observing a viewpoint, your just flat out wrong. Nowhere in the blog does it say it was removed from the device, they only worry about updates. Which even updates keep the Origional apps and will even backup the apps and keep the apps on the HDD. And in some cases. Still allow download from the Previously purchased section of the App Store. Just not able to buy new.

So your not observing crap, as the accusations you stated aren't fact, weren't in the Origional articles. So no idea where your observing it from

*Edit- even if they replace the device, buy an aditional device or switch to another type of device. they will still be able to load it on it. ( as long as the app is universal they can even go iPad to iPod Touch or iPhone At the same time

Hell-In-A-Handbasket said,
Nowhere in the blog does it say it was removed from the device, they only worry about updates.

"What would happen if PRC/SCS contacted Apple and asked them to remotely delete the copies of Speak for Yourself that were already purchased, citing that the app was (allegedly) illegally infringing upon their patents, and stating that they wanted it entirely removed from existence?"

That's a quote directly from the blog. I'm not going to say I'm right here, but that's what I based the viewpoint from. If you still disagree then not a problem at all; let me know and I'll edit it to credit you for further clarification. I may have taken the quote wrongly, and I fully accept that's a distinct possibility, but I'm just taking it the way I'm seeing it. Nevertheless thank you for your response.

Paul Ferson said,

"What would happen if PRC/SCS contacted Apple and asked them to remotely delete the copies of Speak for Yourself that were already purchased, citing that the app was (allegedly) illegally infringing upon their patents, and stating that they wanted it entirely removed from existence?"

That's a quote directly from the blog. I'm not going to say I'm right here, but that's what I based the viewpoint from. If you still disagree then not a problem at all; let me know and I'll edit it to credit you for further clarification. I may have taken the quote wrongly, and I fully accept that's a distinct possibility, but I'm just taking it the way I'm seeing it. Nevertheless thank you for your response.

And what does that have to do with And I quote from your article " company could be accused of adopting an excessively totalitarian control over their devices by choosing your apps for you " . It's called LAW if it was to be removed, it has not a single thing to do with anything Apple's "totalitarian control". If the Government /Legal system says they have to remove it from devices, that's out of Apples control, same why Microsoft has to remove Media Player from EU copies of Windows, that's not Microsofts fault.

And don't credit me for clarification, based on a vast majority of posts in this article seems your one of the few that hold your "viewpoints", wouldn't be surprised if it gets picked up and quoted verbatim on Fox News

Paul Ferson said,

"What would happen if PRC/SCS contacted Apple and asked them to remotely delete the copies of Speak for Yourself that were already purchased, citing that the app was (allegedly) illegally infringing upon their patents, and stating that they wanted it entirely removed from existence?"

That's a quote directly from the blog. I'm not going to say I'm right here, but that's what I based the viewpoint from. If you still disagree then not a problem at all; let me know and I'll edit it to credit you for further clarification. I may have taken the quote wrongly, and I fully accept that's a distinct possibility, but I'm just taking it the way I'm seeing it. Nevertheless thank you for your response.

What would happen? Apple would tell them to **** off, in lawyer speak of course.

Apple is not responsible for the 3rd party spoftware it sells, just as Amazon isn't responsible for the books and games it sells.. If someone has a problem, both can remove it, but neither are going to, or would be legally compelled to go around and remove copies that have been purchased.

Apple has made it quite clear why it has a kill button for apps, and it's not for copyright, or and legal fights. It's for apps that contained malicious code, utilize exploits, etc.

Why does it matter that it was removed from the store? As long as they have it installed, it's not going to disappear. The article itself silently notes that the app is just going to no longer be updated. The title is pretty deceiving and should probably be changed.

Astra.Xtreme said,
Why does it matter that it was removed from the store? As long as they have it installed, it's not going to disappear. The article itself silently notes that the app is just going to no longer be updated. The title is pretty deceiving and should probably be changed.

Because some people get their panties in a twist over whether the family can update their devices without losing the app, like it's Apple's fault for following basic protocol now that a little girl is involved.

Funny thing is, they'd just get even more upset if they didn't pull it down talking about "fairness" and "equality". There's no winning in this, as everyone can not and will not be pleased.

I'd rather just shrug my shoulders and leave it alone. Obviously, the family isn't going to update their devices, and everything will continue working as is. There is no coming apocalypse for not updating, in fact I do it all the time out of sheer laziness.

Memnochxx said,
The title is a blatant lie intent on getting more views.

Since the title has been mentioned a few times I did change it slightly. Hopefully this one doesn't seem like such a 'blatant lie'. Still, I appreciate feedback on articles since I do like to satisfy people's expectations.

Paul Ferson said,

Since the title has been mentioned a few times I did change it slightly. Hopefully this one doesn't seem like such a 'blatant lie'. Still, I appreciate feedback on articles since I do like to satisfy people's expectations.

Yup, it's a bit better now.

Paul Ferson said,

Since the title has been mentioned a few times I did change it slightly. Hopefully this one doesn't seem like such a 'blatant lie'. Still, I appreciate feedback on articles since I do like to satisfy people's expectations.


Much better Thankyou.

oh dear neowin.. the comments really do show the sad state of affairs this website is in

i'm going to be the first to actually say i am sympathetic towards the family. The article is about patent nonesense that exists in the software world and this is just one of the seemingly unseen victims of this. They didn't realise the app was going to be removed, and it's not their fault that it was.

I am willing to bet a wealthy benefactor (or the company) donates a similar device to their cause.. and good luck to them.

BGM said,
oh dear neowin.. the comments really do show the sad state of affairs this website is in

i'm going to be the first to actually say i am sympathetic towards the family. The article is about patent nonesense that exists in the software world and this is just one of the seemingly unseen victims of this. They didn't realise the app was going to be removed, and it's not their fault that it was.

I am willing to bet a wealthy benefactor (or the company) donates a similar device to their cause.. and good luck to them.

I have to agree with you. As somebody planning to enter the special education field, not only does this article sadden me, but so do the comments. I have personally worked with children who use iPads and the dedicated devices. Each setup has a different pro/con list and the only way to tell if something works is by trying it out. It's a very unfortunate situation all around, especially considering who the instigators and victims are.

The faceless corporation that removed something they were making a profit it on... to make a profit? Ok.

Also, ASL has been around a lot longer than iPads.

I have a hard time feeling sorry for them. They've known their daughter was mute for 2yrs, instead of seeking programs to help people like them, they use an app as a crutch. She's 4 now, so there's no reason not to start teaching her sign language. Do they throw fits when the battery is drained too? Boohoo, there are places that help people in their situation and they chose to take the easy way and got bit in the ass. Be real parents and get proper help.

Tweaky Nippleton said,
I have a hard time feeling sorry for them. They've known their daughter was mute for 2yrs, instead of seeking programs to help people like them, they use an app as a crutch. She's 4 now, so there's no reason not to start teaching her sign language. Do they throw fits when the battery is drained too? Boohoo, there are places that help people in their situation and they chose to take the easy way and got bit in the ass. Be real parents and get proper help.

Dude, you are heartless. A $400 ipad w/ free app, compared to $150 an hour for special treatments, that will probably incorporate some similar principles to learn to speak, such as repetition and pointing to a visual reference. This software was priceless to their family and some heartless vulture with a law degree has stolen it to justify his million dollar bonus. You're probably in favor of SWAT teaming those with terminal illness who medicate with cannabis. You make me sick.

SpyderCanopus said,

Dude, you are heartless. A $400 ipad w/ free app, compared to $150 an hour for special treatments, that will probably incorporate some similar principles to learn to speak, such as repetition and pointing to a visual reference. This software was priceless to their family and some heartless vulture with a law degree has stolen it to justify his million dollar bonus. You're probably in favor of SWAT teaming those with terminal illness who medicate with cannabis. You make me sick.

Instead of paying $400 for an iPad they should have put their taughter to an special needs school where they teach sign language, what you think she's going to talk to everyone with an iPad till the rest of her life? It's not about being heartless, it's about another pair of parents being dumb as f*ck.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,

Instead of paying $400 for an iPad they should have put their taughter to an special needs school where they teach sign language, what you think she's going to talk to everyone with an iPad till the rest of her life? It's not about being heartless, it's about another pair of parents being dumb as f*ck.


I'd have an easier time communicating with a deaf person with an iPad than with sign language.

Tweaky Nippleton said,
I have a hard time feeling sorry for them. They've known their daughter was mute for 2yrs, instead of seeking programs to help people like them, they use an app as a crutch. She's 4 now, so there's no reason not to start teaching her sign language. Do they throw fits when the battery is drained too? Boohoo, there are places that help people in their situation and they chose to take the easy way and got bit in the ass. Be real parents and get proper help.

I am going to have to agree with you 100%. I am hearing impaired and though I can speak okay (though with mistakes), I don't have any assitances other than a paper and pen or my phone (built-in notepad app) if the case to write down what I said arise. I was raised to go to normal school (with integrated special needs unit) and I turn out great. When I was this girl's age, I would barely speak properly but now many people understand me and I'm independent.

The parents of this girl is perhaps misinformed of options and just falls to the ipad to rely on. Someone need to inform them that there are schools that help people like this girl to even learn how to speak, not just sign or rely on devices that doesn't last the life of the girl.

Tweaky Nippleton said,
I have a hard time feeling sorry for them. They've known their daughter was mute for 2yrs, instead of seeking programs to help people like them, they use an app as a crutch. She's 4 now, so there's no reason not to start teaching her sign language. Do they throw fits when the battery is drained too? Boohoo, there are places that help people in their situation and they chose to take the easy way and got bit in the ass. Be real parents and get proper help.

Contrary to others, I'm with you on this. What were people doing a mere 3-4 years ago when nobody had even heard of an iPad? Toys like this break down and can run into all sorts of problems at any time. If this is the only means of communication between this child and her parents, something's gone horribly, horribly wrong.

_dandy_ said,

Contrary to others, I'm with you on this. What were people doing a mere 3-4 years ago when nobody had even heard of an iPad? Toys like this break down and can run into all sorts of problems at any time. If this is the only means of communication between this child and her parents, something's gone horribly, horribly wrong.


I may be mistaken, but having followed this family's story for awhile now on Techdirt, I think this girl has some other issues besides being mute.

edit:

confirmed - >http://niederfamily.blogspot.com/p/about-us.html

Unknown developmental disorder

want the software then contact the companies and pay for it.... sure this is a sad story but that doesn't mean people should get something for free.

sava700 said,
want the software then contact the companies and pay for it.... sure this is a sad story but that doesn't mean people should get something for free.

Did you even read the story?

sava700 said,
want the software then contact the companies and pay for it.... sure this is a sad story but that doesn't mean people should get something for free.
err.. what?

Deliciously_Random said,
Neowin Apple hit-piece fail.

Does the anti-Apple crowd have *so little* ammo against Apple that they have to resort to this?

Lmao

The only connection to Apple in the article is the fact that its an iPad she is using and the software was written for that. Any major company backing an App Store will have to take down patent infringing applications. As of now, Apple hasn't gone that extra step to removing the app from the device. And I doubt that they will unless pressured by the courts or something like that.

But the concern is real. The family should avoid updating the iPad because new versions of the OS might bring new bugs to the software they rely on and w/o backing from a team they may be left w/o any solution.

Deliciously_Random said,
Neowin Apple hit-piece fail. Does the anti-Apple crowd have *so little* ammo against Apple that they have to resort to this?

I wasn't intending for it to sound "anti-Apple". I wrote the article and tried to be detailed in my coverage of the topic. I'm not targeting Apple since they legally are obliged to remove the app due to infringement, and that's understandable. If they do it I can understand that, but this article was more focused on the significance of pulled apps people could grow to rely on.

Deliciously_Random said,
Neowin Apple hit-piece fail.

Does the anti-Apple crowd have *so little* ammo against Apple that they have to resort to this?

Lmao

again, this article is primarily moaning about patent ridiculousness and about the company that had its patents infringed.. apple are just following through with a request from them.

Deliciously_Random said,
Neowin Apple hit-piece fail.

Does the anti-Apple crowd have *so little* ammo against Apple that they have to resort to this?

Lmao

Anyone who dares to speak any criticism of Apple (which this article doesn't actually if you read it) is part of some "anti-Apple crowd"?

Apple are just a company like any other, stop acting like someone insulted your mother.

Martin5000 said,

Anyone who dares to speak any criticism of Apple (which this article doesn't actually if you read it) .

So we are to assume you spent the time to read it, just selectively? It criticizes Apple for something that it hasn't even done.
"It would be intriguing to see Apple remotely pulling applications like this, for it could cause extreme outcry. The company could be accused of adopting an excessively totalitarian control over their devices by choosing your apps for you."

Deliciously_Random said,
Neowin Apple hit-piece fail.

Does the anti-Apple crowd have *so little* ammo against Apple that they have to resort to this?

Lmao

Just more from the anti-everyone but Apple group. Look for something that is not there so we can have a pity party for Apple, feel sad for them, waaaa! LEAVE APPLE ALONE!

Grow up, and a pair.

So Apple, pulled an illegal app from their store, not from the device. The girl still has the app and the device. If the parents don't update it, it will continue working. How is any of this Apples fault? Seems like this whole post is a directed at hating on Apple for something that could possibly happen but hasn't, and what has happened had nothing to do with Apple. Was anybody seriously expecting Apple, or any other company for that matter(Google and Microsoft included), to leave a patent infringing app on their store? There are plenty of topics you can discuss to blinding hate on Apple for. This isn't one of them.

ILikeTobacco said,
So Apple, pulled an illegal app from their store, not from the device. The girl still has the app and the device. If the parents don't update it, it will continue working. How is any of this Apples fault? Seems like this whole post is a directed at hating on Apple for something that could possibly happen but hasn't, and what has happened had nothing to do with Apple. Was anybody seriously expecting Apple, or any other company for that matter(Google and Microsoft included), to leave a patent infringing app on their store? There are plenty of topics you can discuss to blinding hate on Apple for. This isn't one of them.

No, this article is ragging on the company that had its patents infringed.. not apple directly.

BGM said,

No, this article is ragging on the company that had its patents infringed.. not apple directly.

You are right, absolutely nothing negative said about Apple.

"It would be intriguing to see Apple remotely pulling applications like this, for it could cause extreme outcry. The company could be accused of adopting an excessively totalitarian control over their devices by choosing your apps for you."

Author is getting on to Apple for something that it hasn't done.

ILikeTobacco said,

You are right, absolutely nothing negative said about Apple.

"It would be intriguing to see Apple remotely pulling applications like this, for it could cause extreme outcry. The company could be accused of adopting an excessively totalitarian control over their devices by choosing your apps for you."

Author is getting on to Apple for something that it hasn't done.

I could swear Apple already did this before. Maybe I'm mistaken but i swear they have. Either way, lets see how long the app lasts on their phone when another iOS update hits.

KCRic said,
I could swear Apple already did this before. Maybe I'm mistaken but i swear they have. Either way, lets see how long the app lasts on their phone when another iOS update hits.

You do know updates are optional right? So as long as the device works, this app will work. Hell, if they make a backup of the device, the can run it in a VM on other touch screen devices such as an all in one station.

ILikeTobacco said,

You do know updates are optional right? So as long as the device works, this app will work. Hell, if they make a backup of the device, the can run it in a VM on other touch screen devices such as an all in one station.
And what if the iPad fails? Battery, screen, accidental or hardware.... and they get a replacement iPad? Can they reload the app if it isn't in the store?
Who knows.

I think the point of this article is that a life-giving app has been removed as collateral damage to the ongoing patent war.

cybertimber2008 said,
And what if the iPad fails? Battery, screen, accidental or hardware.... and they get a replacement iPad? Can they reload the app if it isn't in the store?
Who knows.

Who knows? Admitting you don't have the slightest clue about the App Store? The answer is yes.

cybertimber2008 said,
And what if the iPad fails? Battery, screen, accidental or hardware.... and they get a replacement iPad? Can they reload the app if it isn't in the store?
Who knows.
Well, I guess I know, and the answer is Yes, yes they can.
I have had iDOS and VLC both on my new iPhone, and both were pulled before I got it. I've since removed iDOS, but VLC is still there, working fine..

TheLegendOfMart said,
Pretty sure you can get machines that are dedicated for this purpose than relying on an App in an App store.

If you read the article, you'll find that not only did the family look into one of those devices, but that they also found that they were outlandishly priced and not as useful in their case

TheLegendOfMart said,
Pretty sure you can get machines that are dedicated for this purpose than relying on an App in an App store.

Yes and no. Those devices didn't work for this child.

Title is very misleading.. When Apple/The Owner removes an App from the store, it doesn't remove it from your devices.. They can communicate the exact same today as they did before this..

Ryoken said,
Title is very misleading.. When Apple/The Owner removes an App from the store, it doesn't remove it from your devices.. They can communicate the exact same today as they did before this..

Apple can hit a killswitch, which will remove the app from your device if it's connected to the internet.

McKay said,

Apple can hit a killswitch, which will remove the app from your device if it's connected to the internet.
They CAN.. but they don't, not unless the app is a threat. And they didn't in this case.. Thus making the title misleading, as the App is still right where they left it, it just won't be updated anymore.

McKay said,

Apple can hit a killswitch, which will remove the app from your device if it's connected to the internet.

I've got about 4 apps that were pulled for copyright violation and other reasons (iDOS, for example), and they're still working great, even 1+ years after being pulled.

Ryoken said,
They CAN.. but they don't, not unless the app is a threat. And they didn't in this case.. Thus making the title misleading, as the App is still right where they left it, it just won't be updated anymore.
They've done it before for a lot less. Not to mention with another update to iOS on the horizon, this app will be toast.

While for some of us a new shiny update seems to take forever to hit. These people can only hope it literally takes forever. I'm sure they could find another app or even buy the hardware that this software is on. Then again, maybe another app doesn't exist or that hardware is beyond their budget.

McKay said,

Apple can hit a killswitch, which will remove the app from your device if it's connected to the internet.

Yes they can, but haven't to this day used it, I can still use all of the removed apps on my iPad ( VNC,cineX, bla, bla )

The family is complaining regarding future updates of the software, which IMO if it's working for them for the past while, who cares, they can still use it just like they have been

KCRic said,
They've done it before for a lot less. Not to mention with another update to iOS on the horizon, this app will be toast.

While for some of us a new shiny update seems to take forever to hit. These people can only hope it literally takes forever. I'm sure they could find another app or even buy the hardware that this software is on. Then again, maybe another app doesn't exist or that hardware is beyond their budget.

I'd like to see this list of apps they have done for less.. case as far as I know Apple has NEVER to this date removed any apps from a customer. Only from the store. If you already had it, it's yours, forever. Apple only has the kill switch for if one turns out to do something shady, like keyloging or some exploit or the like.. Something that is a risk to anyone that has installed it. Not just for copyright issues or anything else like that. That's not Apple's problem, that would be like expecting Walmart to not only stop selling something, but go to everyones house to remove it.. they aren't gonna do it.

Additionally, if Apple removed it, they would have to refund, which might be fine if it all happened in a few hrs, but after days they will have paid the developer, and Apple isn't absorbing that cost without good reason.