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VLC for iOS may be pulled from iTunes over open-source issue

updated 05:25 am EDT, Mon November 1, 2010

Apple’s distribution model violates GNU license

Applidium's VLC free open-source universal iOS video player app VLC appears likely to be pulled from Apple's iTunes store. The app, which only launched in September, cannot be distributed through Apple's store as this violates the GNU General Public License (GPL) that VLC has been developed under. In a strange twist, the violation has been brought to the attention of Apple in formal letter written by Rémi Denis-Courmon, who is also one of the principal developers of the VLC app.

Apple's distribution model for apps through the iTunes App Store involves a method of applying Digital Rights Management (DRM) that prevents users from freely sharing the app between themselves once downloaded from the store. The DRM layer is applied by Apple to protect the rights of distributors, but in this case it will likely result in the removal of the VLC app from the App Store.

A similar fate befell the GNU Go app, which was pulled from the App Store after the Free Software Foundation complained that the iTunes terms of service conflicted with the terms of licence for the open-source code underpinning the app. [via iLounge]




by MacNN Staff

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  1. chrisqmalibu

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +10

    Rémi Denis-Courmon works for Nokia

    FYI: Rémi Denis-Courmon works for Nokia.

    http://www.remlab.net/
    Welcome to Remlab.net! This is the home page of Rémi Denis-Courmont.

    I am currently working as a Linux kernel and system software engineer for Nokia in Helsinki, Finland. I am also one of the core developers of the VLC media player at the VideoLAN project, the original developer of Miredo, the Teredo stack for Linux & BSD, and the maintainer of the minisap server and ndisc6 IPv6 utilities.

  1. Athens

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -1

    To h*** with GPL and FSF

    To h*** with GPL and FSF. There pathetic restrictions are doing more harm to end users then good. The app is free and the source code can be obtained from the web. That's good enough for me and should be good enough for them. They rather make a political statement at our, the users expense. Well fine. I deleted open office a long time ago guess I'm deleting firefox to so I can make my own political statement in return. FSF can go F a duck.

  1. Lycestra

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    INAL, but...

    Isn't the source fully and freely available, as are the tools to compile it? You can modify the source all you want, compile it all you want. Freely sharing the executable form of the app isn't prohibited technically, but only the "purchaser" of the free app can execute it. GPL says "Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of running the Program is not restricted [by this License]..."

    What clauses of the GPL does this violate, in regard to the executable form, and how can Apple be held accountable, vs the developer who knowingly causes the software to be distributed as such? Delisting is simply what Apple will do to avoid a legal fight it doesn't need or want to fight.

  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    Remi hates users.

    His actions ultimately deprive people from using his software which is baffling to me since the purpose of software is to be USED by USERS. End users don't give a rats a** about the GPL or any other source license because it does not apply to them. If Remi wants to lock up his code, he should have used the fascist Version 3 of the GPL instead of Version 2. Version 2 of the GPL does NOT prohibit DRM and you cannot add additional terms to the license AFTER the fact.

    This complaint ironically violates the GPL because it violates the clause of placing addtional restrictions after the fact. The legitimate user is not affected by DRM.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    Re: Remi hates users

    His actions ultimately deprive people from using his software which is baffling to me since the purpose of software is to be USED by USERS.

    So, basically, everyone should be able to violate every license out there, as all they do is restrict the user to using the software. No more need to buy Macs, as you can get a hackintosh and boot OS X on it! Start torrenting FCP and iWork! Who cares if Apple doesn't allow it. Software is meant to be used! Not hindered by abstract license clauses like "You are granted the right to use this on one computer" and garbage like that.

    End users don't give a rats a** about the GPL or any other source license because it does not apply to them.

    End users don't care, that is true. They don't care about any license. You think they care about the OS X license, or the iTMS one, or any of the others that come with any software? And since they don't care, should they have to abide by it?

    If Remi wants to lock up his code, he should have used the fascist Version 3 of the GPL instead of Version 2.

    Wow, version 3 of the GPL is fascist now, is it? Who knew.

    And to think it used to be up to the programmers involved in developing the software who got to decide how it can be used and distributed. Yeah, they should just ban the GPL and other such c*** and go back to the better world of closed-source and non-free software.

    This complaint ironically violates the GPL because it violates the clause of placing addtional restrictions after the fact. The legitimate user is not affected by DRM.

    Um, it's the DRM of Apple's that is placing the restriction on the software after the fact. They're the ones who insist on DRM'ing every app out of the box.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -1

    Re: To h*** with GPL and FSF

    To h*** with GPL and FSF. There pathetic restrictions are doing more harm to end users then good. The app is free and the source code can be obtained from the web. That's good enough for me and should be good enough for them.

    Do you people even know what you're talking about?

    It is BECAUSE of the GPL and the FSF that makes sure the software IS available on the web. You all act like people would be doing this all willingly even if the license wasn't there forcing them to.

    They rather make a political statement at our, the users expense. Well fine. I deleted open office a long time ago guess I'm deleting firefox to so I can make my own political statement in return. FSF can go F a duck.

    Oooooh. That will show them. You deleted OpenOffice. Guess you prefer the closed licenses and paying for software like MS Office or iWork, huh?

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -1

    Re: Wrong

    So why should us users suffer over it. Im starting to prefer closed licensed software because they are less babies over little details and more to the point availible and just work.

    Gee, I don't know. Maybe because they are the ones who've put all the time, money, and effort into it, and they don't want it to be bastardized for the sake of DRM. Is it political? Possibly. But it's their right.

    It's all part of the effort to make sure the software doesn't end up basically being stolen from underneath you and turned into a commercial product.

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