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No GPL Apps for Apple’s App Store


Some people swore to me that just because the free-software General Public License (GPL) clashes with the Apple App Store’s Terms of Service (ToS), didn’t mean that Apple would actually pull down GPLed apps. Well, Apple just did. Rémi Denis-Courmont, a Linux developer and the popular VLC media player, has just announced that Apple had pulled the popular GPLed VLC media player from its App Store.

Denis-Courmont wrote, “On January 7th, Apple removed VLC media player from its application store for iDevices. Thus the incompatibility between the GNU General Public License and the AppStore terms of use is resolved–the hard way. This end should not have come to a surprise to anyone, given the precedents.”

It certainly didn’t come as a surprise to Denis-Courmont who pointed out that Apple’s ToS conflicted with VLC’s GPLv2 licensing on October 25th when he sent a formal notification of “copyright infringement … to Apple Inc. regarding distribution of the VLC media player for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. VLC media player is free software licensed solely under the terms of the open source GNU General Public License (a.k.a. GPL). Those terms are contradicted by the products usage rules of the AppStore through which Apple delivers applications to users of its mobile devices.”

His action did not go over well with some other VideoLAN, the non-profit organization behind VLC, developers. As Denis-Courmont wrote at this time, “Some people have commented that this will damage the project’s reputation. Maybe so. Blame those who published and/or advertised VLC for iPad. The fact of the GPL incompatibility was already well known.”

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