TUAW – The GPL, the App Store, and you

We’ve covered the story previously, but here’s the bare-bones facts you need to know. VLC (hosted at http://videolan.org) is a cross-platform, full-featured media player with a long and distinguished history. VLC is licensed under version 2 of the GNU Public License (GPL). A company called Applidium, not affiliated with the project, took the VLC source code and ported it to a free iOS app so that iPhone and iPad users could use it to play back a wider range of file formats than either device supports natively – such as AVI or MKV files. In accordance with the GPL, Applidium made the full source code to the modified version publicly available.

This provoked mixed feelings on the VLC developers’ mailing list, with some developers OK with it, and others who felt that they did not want their work (written to be open) used on a platform, such as iOS, with a reputation for being closed and with some restrictions on code reuse for App Store-distributed apps. This culminated in one developer, Rémi Denis-Courmont (who personally wrote a lot of VLC code) petitioning Apple to remove the VLC iOS app from the App Store as it breached the GPL license under which he had contributed to the project.

Several months later, Apple appears to have complied without arguing the case and the app was taken down, although Denis-Courmont has stated that he’s skeptical about the timing — for this to have been a true response by Apple to his copyright claims, it should have acted a long time ago.

So who’s in the right?

via TUAW – The GPL, the App Store, and you. Lots of information into all the nuances of the GPL and how Apple could be right or wrong in it’s treatment of GPL licensed apps.



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