Steve Jobs bio hits legal snags

"Steve Jobs... doesn't want the book published," author Alan Deutschman says. Is the Apple chief executive's hand behind delays to his unauthorised biography?

With a little more than a month to go before it hits bookshelves, a controversial unauthorised biography on Apple Computer founder and chief executive Steve Jobs has been hit with a number of problems some experts are calling "mysterious".

MacCentral has learned that the book The Second Coming of Steve Jobs has run into ownership-rights problems over the book's cover photo and a planned excerpt of the book appearing in Vanity Fair magazine has been abruptly cancelled. Random House, the book's publisher, informed distribution houses, retailers and certain e-commerce Web sites last week that all copies of the book's cover photo featuring Jobs with a fake, blue halo around his head be removed over "legal concerns" the use of the photo had not been granted by its original owner.

MacCentral sources report the photo was bought for use by Random House from the photo library and press agency Corbis Sygma, who in turn pays the photo's original photographer for its use. According to sources, the photographer, Moshe Brakha, is now claiming he never gave Corbis Sygma the right to sell the photo.

Brakha, Random House and a representative of Corbis Sygma were not available for comment.

In addition to the cover recall, sources confirm Vanity Fair magazine has quickly cancelled plans to run excerpts from the book in its October issue, saying it does not have enough space to run the story.

Vanity Fair had paid an unknown sum for the exclusive rights to print excerpts of the book to coincide with its release set for 12 September. The book's author, Alan Deutschman, is a contributing editor for the magazine. A representative of Vanity Fair was not immediately available to comment.

Sources close to the publisher tell MacCentral these recent revelations are by no means "just an accident" and that some believe representatives of Jobs are behind an effort to "diminish the publicity of this book".

"Steve Jobs does not like the book and doesn't want the book published," Deutschman told MacCentral. "It really looks to me as if Steve Jobs is trying to cause problems for this book."

A Random House spokeswoman confirmed for the Wall Street Journal that Jobs had spoken to Random House chief Peter Olson earlier this week but said she didn't know what was discussed. Sources report the issue over the use of the cover photo had already surfaced before Jobs contacted Olson.

It is not known if Jobs or his representatives attempted to have excerpts of the book stopped from being printed in the October issue of Vanity Fair. Vanity Fair is owned by Conde Nast Publications.

The 301-page hardcover biography focuses primarily on Jobs' tenure at Apple, Pixar and NeXT Software from 1985 through 2000 and details the unique and colourful return of Jobs to fame and fortune.

There is a possibility the book's release could be pushed back slightly further than 12 September because of the last-minute change to the book's cover jacket, but Random House has yet to make any official announcement of such a delay.

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