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Apple pulls VLC media player from the App Store

updated 08:35 pm EST, Fri January 7, 2011

Move said to be related to licensing dispute

Apple has finally pulled Applidium's VLC video player app from the iTunes store due to a licensing discrepancy. The situation is one of the prominent examples of conflict between the open-source GNU General Public License, which is tied to the VLC player, and the terms detailed in Apple's own App Store licensing.

Interestingly enough, the incompatibility was brought to Apple's attention by Rémi Denis-Courmon, one of the principal developers behind the VLC media player. The problem was brought to attention over two months ago, however Apple only recently removed the app.

"At last, Apple has removed VLC media player from its application store," Denis-Courmon was quoted as saying, according to a Planet VideoLAN blog. "Thus the incompatibility between the GNU General Public License and the AppStore terms of use is resolved - the hard way."

Apple's insistence on Digital Rights Management (DRM) for App Store content is reportedly the primary source of conflict with the GNU license. A similar situation resulted in the removal of GNU Go, a game app that also also uses GPL code.

"I am not going to pity the owners of iDevices, and not even the MobileVLC developers who doubtless wasted a lot of their time," Denis-Courmon added. "This end should not have come to a surprise to anyone."

by MacNN Staff



  1. The Vicar

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Gee, really?

    You mean the GPL can't be used on a platform designed for consumers because it is too constricting? That comes as a shock -- to anyone who hasn't paid any attention whatsoever to the GPL for the last decade.

    Of course, now that I think of it, most people haven't, and that's a good thing for once. The GPL is a nasty piece of work by an ideologue, and if it isn't well-known that's probably a good thing. It deliberately leaves some terms vague so that people can be punished later -- and Stallman has admitted as much. Who knows what moronic lawsuits are waiting in the wings -- Google "Busybox lawsuit" to see the sort of thing that is doubtless planned. People who don't want to use their software as a bludgeon to beat people into submission use one of the licenses written by actual adults, like the one for BSD.

  1. MyRightEye

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Put it

    on Cydia.

  1. chas_m



    Works great

    The mobile version for iPad has been a huge time-saver. I'm sorry the mobile VLC developers and Apple couldn't work something out, but at least I got my copy before the end. Hopefully some good in terms of developer dialogue with the App Store will come of this.

  1. cgc

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    Yeah, I snagged a copy of VLC when it was first announced just to have in case Apple yanked it.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. Seth Kristol

    Joined: Dec 1969



    You have to admit, there are challenging issues to be resolved in reconciling the GNU license with a system the purports to guarantee software security through a system of signing certificates as well as which is obligated to provide responsible accounting of even "free" distributions. Nonetheless, these things most likely could be resolved with some commitment and elbow grease.

    There was a time when Steve Job most likely was committed enough to things like the GNU license, open source, changing the world, and computers for the rest of us that he would have used his renown bull-headedness to resolve such issues. Probably not anymore. Strange how success and a few billions dollars can change a man's perspectives.

    Lord Acton continues to bat a thousand.

  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Nokia is behind this.

    Remi Denis-Courmont works for Nokia and his employer needs to play fair. There is no inherent incompatibility between "free" apps on the app store and the GPLV2. What he said is pure FUD.

  1. legacyb4

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I wonder how long it will be before...

    the last version of VLC stops working on iOS 4?

  1. dliup

    Joined: Dec 1969


    think different

    What about think different? Stick it up to the GNU fools?

  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Rémi Denis-Courmont may be in violation of GPL

    He may in fact be in violation of the GPL as he is trying to impose additional restrictions upon the VLC codebase and that is a violation of one of the terms of the GPL. This would not be a problem if he was the sole contributor but since he is one of several and the majority do not agree with him, the VLC team might have to remove his contributions from VLC with a rewrite unless if he decides to comply with the GPLV2 conditions.

  1. facebook_Valentin

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jan 2011


    Put an unpacked copy of the App on board

    There should be some artificial way to avoid violation of licensing terms like adding code distribution folder along with App. This shouldn't violate Apple guidelines as well.

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