October 1, 2013 Last Updated 4:09 pm

New tablet magazine surprises competitors: it uses their content to create digital magazine

See update at the bottom:

The publisher of Architectural Debut magazine has solved one of the biggest challenges facing any publisher: content. Rather than generating their own editorial material, Luxe Media has launched a new tablet edition that simply takes the content of other architecture magazines and uses it in its own new app, Architectural Debut LIVE Mag.

ArchDebut-iPad2-lgLuxe Media Inc. is based in British Columbia, but the new app takes its content from such European magazine sources as World Architecture News and Designboom. The new digital magazine costs $2.99 to download and is built sort of like Flipboard in that it is a series of pages containing boxes that link to the content. It is actually an interesting design idea: make the whole magazine simply be the Table of Contents, with links to the stories and a back button that takes you back to the TOC.

There is a refresh button that updates the content, though after two days with the app I saw no refreshed content.

The entire first page of the app contains four stories, all of which originate with World Architecture News. A tap of the box takes you to the article. All the layouts are identical: a large picture at the top, then the article text, with the remaining pictures at the bottom. Whether the app is using the RSS feeds from the other publication is a bit hard for me to tell.

The new digital magazine makes no attempt to hide the fact that the content comes from elsewhere. The story is credited to its source, and even contains a link back to the original article from that other property. Clearly the publishing team believes it is OK to do this.

ArchDebut-iPad-lgSo I contacted the editor of World Architecture News, Michael Hammond, and asked him if their magazine gave this new architecture magazine permission to use their content.

“Many thanks for bringing this to our attention,” Hammond wrote me. “We certainly haven’t authorised this use of our content and will be looking into the matter now…” (oh oh)

I’ve also contacted the publisher of Designboom for a comment, as well, but have not heard back.

Luxe Media Inc. has 11 iPad apps inside the Apple App Store including another paid app called simply Architectural Debut Magazine. That stand-alone digital magazine app costs $1.99 and appears to be designed like a traditional print magazine. The app was launched in January of last year and updated once, a week following its original release. From what I can see, only one issue was released. That app has the exact same app description as the new one, leading one to believe that the new app supplants the old one.

The publisher behind these apps is Sam dHand, with Annie dHand listed as editor.

I checked out the reader reviews inside the App Store to see what readers think of these apps from Luxe Media. There are only a handful of reviews in the US store, all negative, most complaining about the apps themselves.

So I went into the Canadian App Store to see if there were more reviews. Again, there were not many. One read “Don’t buy. There hasn’t been a magazine published since mid-2011. This should be removed from the App Store,” the reviewer wrote of the app Dream Homes and Living Magazine.

But one reviewer has nothing but good things to say about the apps from Luxe Media. That reviewer has written five reviews total, all about the apps from Luxe Media.

“Fantastic app!! I found Top Tier Living Magazine to be a very enjoyable read,” he writes. Of another he says “This is a great app!! Dream Homes and Living Magazine is really nice, The publisher has done a good job of porting their print edition to the iPad,” the reviewer writes.

That reviewer’s name inside the App Store is listed as SAMDHAND.

Update: An Apple spokesman called this afternoon to let me know that they would look into this situation with this app, as well as that of another developer who has been flooding the Newsstand with digital magazine apps (but without many actual digital magazine issues).

Publishers are reminded that they should contact Apple at the iTunes Content Dispute page when they believe they have an issue with an app which is, shall we say, borrowing their content. The publisher should include the name of the app, the developer account, and probably should include a screenshot or two, as well.

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