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GNU is Not Unix Open Source Apple

VLC Developer Takes a Stand Against DRM Enforcement 717

Posted by samzenpus
from the fighting-the-good-fight dept.
jamie writes "The GPL gives Apple permission to distribute this software through the App Store. All they would have to do is follow the license's conditions to help keep the software free. Instead, Apple has decided that they prefer to impose Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) and proprietary legal terms on all programs in the App Store, and they'd rather kick out GPLed software than change their own rules."
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VLC Developer Takes a Stand Against DRM Enforcement

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  • Looks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:12AM (#34079458)

    Even if this looks like it all it'll do is deprive users of useful programs, it's still the good fight.

  • Download now? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:14AM (#34079470)

    So I guess now's the time to install VLC on my iOS device before it gets the boot?

  • by goombah99 (560566) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:17AM (#34079494)

    I confess I've not read the GPL with an eye towards that exact question but I have read it and don't recall anything like that in it. As I recall it requires me to make available the sources of anything I compile. But I don't see why a delivery channel that wraps something in DRM is against the GPL. I can have the sources available both via the app istelf and online. DOes the GPL prevent me from using SSH or HTTS from _sending_ and _installing_ any code. No. so why should apple's encrypted conduit matter. And as for app signing, well you have to do that to run apps on any OSX machine now without getting warning messages in the logs. SO could someone explain how apple's app store is interfering with the GPL?

  • by ad454 (325846) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:18AM (#34079504)
    The latest VLC version 1.1.3 has the GPL version 2 licence. Although the GPLv3 has anti-DRM and anti-Tivo-ization measures, correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't the GPLv2 licence allow Apple to distribute the software in the App Store with DRM, as long as the also provide a copy of the source code?
  • On the other hand (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:19AM (#34079510)

    Developer of [the most common piece of software used to watch pirated videos] takes a stand against [copyringt enforcement tool]. Shock and awe.

  • Obstinance? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:22AM (#34079522)

    Their [Apple's] obstinance prevents you from having this great software on Apple devices—not the GPL or the people enforcing it.

    I have karma to burn, so I'm just going to say it: how is Apple expecting software distributed via their App Store to comply with App Store terms and conditions any more obstinate than expecting software distributed under the GPL to be distributed according to GPL conditions? Apple are under no obligation to carry software with what they consider inappropriate licensing on their store, any more than we are under any obligation to buy Apple hardware and apps from their store if we value the provisions of the GPL.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:24AM (#34079542)

    As I recall it requires me to make available the sources of anything I compile

    No, that is not what the GPL has ever required. It has required that you make the source code of GPL software available to anyone you distribute that software to, and that you distribute it under the same license, including any changes you make to the software that you distribute (assuming it is not your original work).

    why a delivery channel that wraps something in DRM is against the GPL.

    The GPLv3 includes an anti-Tivoization clause, which basically requires that if GPL software is going to be locked down by a restriction system (DRM), the user has to be able to bypass/disable that restriction system so that they can enjoy the other benefits of the GPL, like the ability to modify the software. Since the iOS restriction system does not allow users to enjoy the benefits of the GPL (cannot modify code without paying Apple, cannot redistribute, etc.), it is incompatible with GPLv3.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999 AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:26AM (#34079564)

    So, the non-article pretty much says "we complained about another GPL app in the store and rather than Apple change its entire licensing structure, it chose to remove the app in question and stop distributing it" - which is *exactly what the FSF were complaining about*.

    * App is distributed on app store
    * FSF sees it is GPL
    * complains to Apple that it is not compatible with their licenses
    * Apple takes it down (or it is suggested that Apple will go this route - there hasn't been a decision on VLC yet, this article is just speculating on what Apple will do and condemning them for a decision they have not yet made)

    Really, what is the argument here? There is no justification for righteous indignation when Apple does exactly what it is asked to do. You seriously expect them to change their licensing to be compatible with GPL software? What world are they living in? The App Store is a well known closed ecosystem. This article is nothing but a petulant rant that attempts to apportion blame about "denying great software" to people on iOS devices because of "Apple's restrictions" - when it is just as clear that the restrictions go both ways. The FSF likes to point out that the GPL is incompatible with the App Store (and there's a nice little non-sequitur paragraph at the end with wild speculation that the new app store in 10.7 will be enormously locked down).

    This cuts both ways.

    The GPL is a marvellous thing, but there are some places it just cannot go, by nature of its restrictions; restrictions put in place to provide more freedom, ironically. This article is nothing more than an attempt to force Apple to deny its own freedom to choose what licenses to use for the App Store - if they happen to be incompatible with the GPL, then tough beans. They have as much right to choose as anyone using the GPL does.

    If the lack of wholly GPL software on iOS bothers enough customers, there are other smartphone platforms that are known for not having such a tightly controlled app ecosystem.

  • by Nursie (632944) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:26AM (#34079566)

    Stop right there. Really.

    The old. tired BSD vs GPL argument is not needed here.

    There are good reasons to use one over the other, but I'm sorry, freedom has different definitions. GPL grants freedoms to end users that BSD does not. BSD grants rights to developers and distributors that GPL does not. It is not magically "more free".

  • by Hatta (162192) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:35AM (#34079622) Journal

    The only "rights" BSD grants that GPL doesn't is the "right" to remove the rights of the end user.

  • by pnewhook (788591) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:39AM (#34079642)

    No. Under GPL if I add something useful and extend the program, I have to also post those changes under GPL. I may not want to do that. BSD gives me the freedom to do as I wish. BSD is far more free than GPL.

    Either something should be free or it should not. GPL simply pretends to be free while at the same time forcing you to adhere to a very specific philosophy.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:46AM (#34079706)

    you have the sources. go ahead and modify them. nothing is stopping you.

    Unless, of course, you obtained the software through the App Store...which is what this is all about. The App Store policies, the mandatory DRM, are the problem here.

    You can even install and run it on an iphone via xcode apple freely provides

    When last I checked, you had to pay Apple for this privilege; that seems to run afoul of the GPL in and of itself, at least in spirit. Again, though, the point here is about the App Store which has policies that are inherently incompatible with the GPL.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:48AM (#34079720) Homepage Journal
    AC wrote:

    Developer of [the most common piece of software used to watch pirated videos]

    The most common piece of software used to watch pirated videos is probably the Windows operating system. What makes VLC more specifically tied to the warez scene than any other video player?

  • by Exitar (809068) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:51AM (#34079738)

    GPL is not free as in beer and is not free as in speech. It's free as in RMS definition of freedom.

  • by sateh (467083) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:53AM (#34079756)

    There are a bunch of things wrong with this slashdot article and also with how the original VLC developers are handling this. It is easy to blame Apple for everything, but consider this:

    * There are three parties here: The VLC Team that wrote the VLC code. The commercial iPhone developer Applidium, who turned VLC into an iPhone App. Apple, who is making the application available.

    * Applidium submitted the application to the App Store. Apple approved the app. The VLC Team is sending a copyright infringement to Apple.

    * VLC is licensed under the GPL2. If the GPL2 license is incompatible with the App Store then why have the developers of VLC for the iPhone (Applidium) submitted the app? They should never have done that in the first place. They are the ones to blame for uploading software that cannot exist on the App Store under its current terms.

    * The application is currently on the store, which means Apple has approved it. So obviously from Apple's perspective there is no problem here.

    * Apple has actually changed the rules to accomodate for GPL2 licensed software after the GNU Go debacle: if a proper license is already attached to the application then Apple does not enforce its own default EULA for apps. This change was made in June. A month after the GNU Go thing happened.

    * Apple kicked out GNU Go because the FSF requested them to do that. People keep screaming that Apple removes all GPL software, but this is simply because people are telling Apple to do that. What else do you expect them to do?

    * It is probably fair to assume that Apple will remove the software after the copyright infringement claims made by the VLC team. But this really has NOTHING to do with the GPL. This is simply how Apple reacts to these kind of allegations. They remove the software and let both parties know so that the parties (in this case VLC Team vs Applidium) can work out a deal or whatever.

    Diplomacy has never been a strong point of the VLC team and because of this in the end will lose:

    * End users will not be able to use VLC on their iPhones and iPads.
    * Applidium just wasted a huge amount of time on this project.
    * The VLC team will not have an opportunity to start a dialog with Apple to maybe relax the rules.
    * Apple will lose an interesting app on their store.

    Yay for GNU GPL zealots.

  • Re:Looks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:55AM (#34079770) Homepage Journal

    Exactly. It's not exactly hard to download VLC from its home site.

    But it's hard to install unless you know how to jailbreak your iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad. I'd prefer that people buy a less locked-down device in the first place, but there isn't really an "Android pod touch" in the United States yet.

  • by sateh (467083) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:58AM (#34079776)

    You forget to mention that VLC is distributed under the GPLv2 license. So there is no anti-Tivoization clause.

  • by neokushan (932374) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:02PM (#34079802)

    That's a bit like saying Mice are the most commonly used pointing devices used to download pirated/copyright software.

    That's a bit like saying LCDs are the most commonly used displays to watch pirated content.

    That's a bit like saying air is the most commonly inhaled gas when people watch pirated content.

    VLC makes it no more easier to download and watch pirated content than FFDShow, Quicktime, Windows Media Player, Winamp, etc.

  • by mounthood (993037) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:10PM (#34079858)

    If you want to end DRM, you need to support Apple since they are the only large company who has worked to end DRM and had some success.

    Support the abusers because they're the only ones who've shown any restraint in their abuse. You're either trolling or suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

  • by B1oodAnge1 (1485419) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:17PM (#34079896)

    While what you say is factually correct, the (implied) conclusion that this ties VLC somehow to piracy or the 'warez scene' is retarded.

    To make a car analogy, you just said that Honda (VLC) was tied to the 'illegal street racing scene' (piracy) because their cars are favored by many illegal street racers (pirates). It's not the responsibility of Honda (VLC) if illegal street racers (pirates) recognize the superiority of their product (media player).

  • by Snocone (158524) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:20PM (#34079920) Homepage

    Unless, of course, you obtained the software through the App Store...

    So zip up the source files and drop them in the app package you submit to Apple. That's what id did with the wolf3d sources. Presto, source distributed along with every download from the App Store, now go sit in the corner with a nice big cup of STFU.

    Since that alleged objection is so trivially dealt with, the FSF is taking the position that Section 6 of GPLv2 is incompatible with App Store distribution, since Apple limits the distribution of the downloads to the five devices linked to the downloader's Apple ID. In other words, their position is that Apple must remove the signing requirement for device installs before iOS devices can be GPL-compatible at all.

    Well, nobody sane thinks that ever might happen.

    You have the option to sign yourself whatever code you want on whatever devices you purchase by joining the iOS developer program; and furthermore you can sign it to be ad hoc installed on another couple hundred devices of people who trust you enough to give you their device IDs. If you're not interested in working with either of those options, then that's a pretty clear indication that what you're up on your high horse about has nothing to do with what's actually best for the vast majority (as in the 92% that have not jailbroken their devices) of users.

  • by The Mighty Buzzard (878441) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:25PM (#34079954)
    Free = public domain. Everything else, just pretenders to the crown.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:39PM (#34080054)

    VLC really isn't the most used in the warez scene for the reasons you cited. Search a few forums and you'll see the alternatives mentioned by about 15:1 preference. Which isn't too surprising as d/l'ers are obsessed with their 1080p bluray rips more than anything else.

    IMO VLC is far more popular for legitimate purposes. Kind of makes the OP's argument look like trolling.

  • Re:Download now? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aristotle-dude (626586) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:44PM (#34080098)

    Or rather, certain interpretations of GPLv2 say that it allows these restrictions. The wording is unclear and may be understood either way, and "spirit of the license" has no legal weight. GPLv3 merely fixes this ambiguity.

    If a license does not contain the wording, there is nothing to interpret out of it. If the GNU chooses to be assholes, everyone outside of their faithful will hate them for it. There is not such thing as a "SPIRIT" of a "LICENCE". It is not legislation but an agreement created by the original authors for third parties.

  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:50PM (#34080138)

    You have myopia, selfishly looking at only one incremental step of the whole process, and ignoring what happens as a consequence.

    If you publish under more a restrictive licence, then *I* have no longer have any options to republish. You've restricted *my* freedom, and the freedom of everyone else in the world. Your fork becomes a dead end (and possibly a trap luring people into vendor lock-in).

    Your dead end allows nobody else to increase their freedom beyond the standard sheepish "if you don't like the license, don't use the program". Well, you already have that particular freedom when you consider whether or not to incorporate GPLed code in the first place. The GPL gives you at least as much freedom as you seem to be willing to give anyone else.

  • by vlm (69642) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:52PM (#34080154)

    Why would I bother developing something if I wasn't going to distribute it, either myself or someone I work for?

    At home, because I want to use it?

    At work, because the purpose of my work was to hyper-customize it, with the side effect that it would be useless anywhere else in the rest of the world?

  • Re:Obstinance? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Raenex (947668) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:57PM (#34080198)

    I have karma to burn, so I'm just going to say it:

    If you were just going to say it, then you wouldn't have prefixed your message with this. It's the typical tactic that more often than not gets up-modded.

  • by Patch86 (1465427) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:58PM (#34080202)

    If you right something yourself, just yourself, you don't have to publish the source code under the GPL. You can publish it under BSD, or Apache, or a proprietary licence, or whatever.

    If you want to take somebody else's code and do something with it (modify it, build something on top of it, etc.) they have the right to request you treat their code in the way that they wish. If they put it under GPL, it's because they want your code to be fed back into something useful for them. Seeing as you're benefiting from their hard work, you don't get ultimate control over it.

    I've always hated the "what's more free" argument- I think it's pointless. If I had to say so, I'd say BSD is "more free", whatever that means. But ultimately, BSD is really useful for some things, GPL is really useful for others, and other licences are useful for other things entirely.

    Both GPL & BSD are a lot more community-friendly than an old fashioned proprietary licence, and that's all that really matters to me. Stallman be damned.

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @01:18PM (#34080342) Homepage

    A different VLC developer disagrees and says the FSF is acting in bad faith and FUD [ycombinator.com].

    Back in May, when the FSF complained about GNU Go on the App Store, the App Store was in fact definitely incompatible with GPL software. Apple makes copies and distributes them, so Apple needs permission of the copyright owner.

    To get that permission under GPL, you have to obey GPL, including the part about not placing any additional restrictions on people you distribute copies to. Apple's end user terms of service placed many GPL-incompatible restrictions on the people Apple distributes to, so no GPL permission for Apple. If the developer owned all the GPL code in his application, then the act of submitting it to the store gives implicit (and there is probably something in the developer agreement that makes it explicit) permission to Apple to distribute. However, if the developer is using GPL code from other people, then there is a problem.

    About a month after the FSF published their detailed explanation of the incompatibility, Apple changed the end user terms of service and the change appears to have removed the problem. It now says that if an app is covered by a EULA (and the GPL would count as a EULA, I believe) then that EULA governs. If there is no EULA, then Apple's default license governs, and it is Apple's default license that has the things the FSF objects to.

    There was similar language before the June change, except that there was a set of "Usage Rules" and Apples terms states that those applied in addition to any EULA for the particular software, and it was the usage rules that contained the GPL-incomplatible stuff. With the June change, it seems that if the software has a EULA, the EULA is all that applies.

  • by pnewhook (788591) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @01:20PM (#34080356)

    Ok, on topic. Apple did not wish to abide by the terms of the GPL license so it chose not to distribute the code. I don't really see a problem with what they did.

  • Re:Looks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @01:24PM (#34080394) Homepage Journal

    No, Apple is not fighting the good fight. If Apple users gained some benefit from Apple's decision to deprive users of useful programs, you might be able to make a case for that, but this is all penalty for no gain.

  • Re:Download now? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @01:30PM (#34080452) Journal

    Apple is making a copy of the software when they distribute it (see Apple Vs Pystar, where Apple's lawyers made precisely this argument and it was upheld). The software is governed by copyright and so they require permission from the copyright holder to do so. The GPL gives them permission to do so, as long as they abide by certain conditions (i.e. either distributing the source code, or providing an offer in writing to provide the source code for no more than a nominal fee on a medium commonly used for software interchange).

    Anyone (other than the copyright owner) who makes a copy of any copyrighted work is bound by whatever license granted them the right to do so, or by the limitations of fair use / fair dealings if there is no explicit license. It doesn't matter whether that person is a developer, a publisher, or a store keeper.

    Note that this doesn't apply to most brick and mortar stores, because they do not create copies, they simply pass on existing copies (on some physical medium) that were created by others.

  • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Sunday October 31, 2010 @02:06PM (#34080704) Homepage

    Getting a developer's license has nothing to do with this; Apple is distributing a binary of a ported VLC in contravention of VLC's license. Apple's App Store rules are the heart of the issue: Apple's App Store rules prohibit them from complying with the GNU GPL which disallows adding restrictions to its (now longstanding) terms. Apple controls which apps enter and leave their App Store; they had as much time as they wanted to review license compliance and they apparently chose copyright infringement. Part of what makes this so bad is that they chose to infringe against people who are treating users so nicely: the GPL gives everyone (even Apple) all the license they need to distribute programs, even commercially.

    Apple is most certainly responsible for infringingly distributing VLC. Much as you want to call the FSF names (your hyperbole suggests this is for reasons you can't justify), the FSF almost doesn't enter into the situation here except for being the author of the license VLC programmers chose to license VLC under. VLC programmer Rémi Denis-Courmont is simply defending his chosen license against an organization that would impose new restrictions on users of that variant of VLC.

    So, if Apple chooses to remove VLC from their App Store as they removed GNU Go in May under what Denis-Courmont calls "strikingly similar circumstances" [fsf.org], Apple will be making it that much less convenient for most iOS users to get and use VLC. Perhaps you should visit the FSF article linked to in the top of this /. thread which includes:

    The GPL gives Apple permission to distribute this software through the App Store. All they would have to do is follow the license's conditions to help keep the software free. Instead, Apple has decided that they prefer to impose Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) and proprietary legal terms on all programs in the App Store, and they'd rather kick out GPLed software than change their own rules. Their obstinance prevents you from having this great software on Apple devices--not the GPL or the people enforcing it.

    To take this the way you want to read it, it's almost as if you don't believe copyright holders should be able to choose their own license and legally defend their choice. We should all just bend to Apple's will and let them proprietarize or include DRM in the distribution of anything we make. Apparently there are GPLed program hackers who don't agree with that.

  • Re:Looks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by uglyduckling (103926) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @02:11PM (#34080768) Homepage
    You could just as easlily say that the GPL is incompatible with the App store as the other way round. The claim is that because the App store has some restrictions (e.g. you can only install on 5 devices per download) and the GPL doesn't allow any extra restictions, that this is Apple's fault. If the owners of VLC want it on the app store, they could easily re-license it under a more permissive license that would be compatible. There's loads of situations outside of the app store where a piece of software might be subject to 'extra' restrictions. I don't think this is a deliberate decision on Apple's part to remove GPL apps, it's more a clash of cultures that either side could fix, and when Apple are told by someone that a certain app is incompatible in license with the App Store, it's perfectly natural for them to remove it as the first action.
  • by DannyO152 (544940) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @02:14PM (#34080798)

    In order to redistribute GPL software, isn't Apple asked to spend more money? It has to have the ability to turn off and on the encryption, based on the license. It has to, to some degree, vet that the code is licensed correctly, or that non-GPL apps doesn't include GPLed elements. If they distribute anything that was not properly licensed, they have to mitigate the infringement, which, as a start, will be a recall off of the mobile devices and a refund, which is an ugly pr event, ask Amazon about "1984." What about the costs of hosting source code? Isn't a lot of GPL software offered at no charge, so there's not a lot of offsetting revenue for the extra bother? Licensing nuance is inside baseball. I doubt there would be significant additional demand for Apple devices for GPL code being allowed in the app store. Were Apple to allow GPL apps, Freedom as in Free adherents would still be cheesed off that Apple approves each app and/or that device owners cannot install any thing they want, except via unsupported self-modification

    The developer chooses a license that suits them, and, right on, dig it, God bless 'em, and more power to them. Potential downstream users look at licenses and, if it doesn't make sense in the totality of what they are trying to do, either to pursue happiness or a dollar, they walk away from the code. Apple looks at GPL code and says, it's not worth the effort. They have the freedom to make that choice. Device buyers have the freedom to consider the intermediate's choices when they choose devices.

  • Re:Looks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DJRumpy (1345787) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @02:54PM (#34081276)

    I think you're being naive. Why would they do that when the App store is a huge success? Every handset maker out there is selling Android device, yet Apple is still holding its own quite nicely, with a single model from one company and one mobile provider, and that is soon to change in 2011, when they expand to Verizon, and open an even bigger market to Apple. You also misunderstand the motive for the App store. They make enough to break even with perhaps a tiny bit above board. The App Store was never about profit.

    I predict that the rise of the Android OS is going to force Apple to open their phone to non-App Store apps.

    Statements like this remind me of the 'Year of the Linux Desktop' claims. Linux, like Android, is an excellent piece of software, but you vastly overestimate the draw for 'open' to the typical end user. Hell Linux is free yet it has a tiny portion of the desktop OS. In other words, you can't give it away (well not in any significant numbers that is). A FOSS App Store might give slashdotters a nerd-gasm, but to an average Joe, it's just another gimmick without a 'must have' appeal considering the sheer number of apps they have to choose from. Ask someone on the street if they would rather use VLC because it's GPL and they would just look at you with a blank stare until you explain what GPL meant.

    I have to wonder if part of the anti-Apple movement in here lately is simply because Apple, although they are a tech company, lives, eats, and breaths, without any input from the techie crowd. That's a total reversal from even 10 years ago where most family members always had someone they know who was PC savvy and helped with decisions like that. I think that tends to leave your typical geek a little miffed. 10 years ago, you had to know a geek to do something as complex as upgrading your OS, or backing up your software (some of the basic functionality that today's devices provide with no configuration needed).

    Now anyone can buy a device, download some music, sync some videos, install any number a quarter of a million apps, backup their data, upgrade their OS, all without ever needing to ask the family geek for help.

  • by vadim_t (324782) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @03:20PM (#34081542) Homepage

    It prevents many other things.

    Quote me the law that makes it illegal to play a russian DVD on an american player, or that requires me to watch the unskippable junk in the beginning.

  • Re:Looks (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 2010 @03:29PM (#34081622)

    Yes yes, c64 everyone here knows that you like your macs. Your one of the loudest fanbois around.

    But I digress, you do realize that your precious Mac is made by the same company that makes those locked down ipods... right? Well the question is what makes you think that they wont use these apparently successful results from the iDevices to force the same rules onto Macs. I mean I'm sure Stevie would love to be able to force everyone to buy ALL software from him.

    Just food for thought, personally I bet that within the next 5 years you will have to jailbreak your mac just to install free software like VLC.

  • Re:Looks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @03:58PM (#34081968)

    The next MacOS release will require signed applications and guess what.... only Steve gets to sign.

    Only for those things put on the App Store. The app store will not be an exclusive place to download apps on OS X. Stop spreading lies.

  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @04:45PM (#34082354)

    The FSF need to stop spreading FUD and outright lies about their own license.

    RMS and his cohorts have done more to damage the general OSS movement with their radical FOSS brand than MSFT did through SCO.

    They are attacking a company that has done more for open source than a lot of companies. Consider their work on Webkit which forms the base of not only Safari but webOS (formerly Palm and how HP), webkit browers on android, Nokia and Blackberry. They also released released Bonjour, Quicktime Streaming Server, the base of OS X (Darwin), CUPS as well as a bunch of contributions to various open source projects. What has RMS done lately other than complain?

    http://www.opensource.apple.com/ [apple.com]

    http://www.apple.com/opensource/ [apple.com]

    http://developer.apple.com/opensource/ [apple.com]

  • Re:Looks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by asdfghjklqwertyuiop (649296) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @07:38PM (#34083738)

    Wow, how generous of them. For only $99/year they'll stop getting in the way of people doing what they want with their own property.

  • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Sunday October 31, 2010 @08:37PM (#34084188) Homepage

    Those who submitted VLC to Apple are not in compliance with the license but Apple is also a distributor, so they are both infringing. But Apple is the focus of this /. thread, so I focus on Apple here.

    The Apple App Store is not some organization where Apple can't determine what submitters have submitted and Apple somehow has no choice but to distribute everything that comes their way. Apple has no excuse like, say, a phone company selling service to a home where the phone company can't tell ahead of time if the home users will use the phone service in some manner that aides copyright infringement. Apple has rules for determining which programs are on their App Store and, as objectionable as those rules are, they retain full power to decide what's in and out. Therefore Apple has ample opportunity to dig into licensing detail and discuss submissions with submitters.

    Furthermore, and more to your point about fraud, Apple's agreement with its upstream (those that submitted VLC to the Apple App Store) does not affect the copyright license under which VLC and its derivatives are distributed. Apple has to comply with that license, in this case the GNU GPL.

    The GPL doesn't distinguish between distributors (GPLv2)/conveyors (GPLv3) allowing some to comply but not others (that would be an easily-exploited hole whereby GPLed free software would quickly become proprietary). All distributors/conveyors have the same obligations to add no restrictions to the license. Apple did not do that, therefore Apple is infringing just as Apple infringed the GPL when they distributed GNU Go.

    The difference here is in how the copyright holders chose to react: the FSF, as per usual, sought license compliance when they were defending their license with GNU Go ("We have not sued Apple, nor have we sent them any legal demand that they remove the programs from the App Store." -- Brett Smith, FSF License Compliance Engineer [fsf.org]). The FSF wanted Apple to change the terms of their App Store rules so they could simultaneously comply with the GPL and their own rules. Apple declined and stopped distributing GNU Go. Rémi Denis-Courmont took a different approach [videolan.org] by sending "a formal notification of copyright infringement" to Apple as is Denis-Courmont's right.

  • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:27PM (#34085364) Homepage

    No, they don't. Because they didn't agree to it [the GNU GPL]. The app submitter agreed to it.

    The GPL specifies conditions under which one may distribute/convey the covered work. The alternative to these conditions is the default of copyright law: you may not distribute the work at all. Therefore if one fails to comply with the terms of the (relevant version of the) GPL, one loses permission to distribute/convey the GPLd program. But don't take my word for it, read what Eben Moglen, copyright lawyer, longtime GPL enforcer, and now president/founder of the Software Freedom Law Center said about this back in 2001 [gnu.org]: (emphasis mine)

    Because there's nothing complex or controversial about the license's substantive provisions, I have never even seen a serious argument that the GPL exceeds a licensor's powers. But it is sometimes said that the GPL can't be enforced because users haven't “accepted” it.

    This claim is based on a misunderstanding. The license does not require anyone to accept it in order to acquire, install, use, inspect, or even experimentally modify GPL'd software. All of those activities are either forbidden or controlled by proprietary software firms, so they require you to accept a license, including contractual provisions outside the reach of copyright, before you can use their works. The free software movement thinks all those activities are rights, which all users ought to have; we don't even want to cover those activities by license. Almost everyone who uses GPL'd software from day to day needs no license, and accepts none. The GPL only obliges you if you distribute software made from GPL'd code, and only needs to be accepted when redistribution occurs. And because no one can ever redistribute without a license, we can safely presume that anyone redistributing GPL'd software intended to accept the GPL. After all, the GPL requires each copy of covered software to include the license text, so everyone is fully informed.

    You claim that

    Apple needs to take the app down, but they aren't required to take any positive actions to fulfill the submitter's license obligations, such as make the source code available, or remove DRM from the app.

    Apple does not need to take the app down. That's the FSF's point: Apple could change how they behave and easily become compliant with the GPL, even distributing GPL'd programs commercially (charging for distribution; distributing for a fee) and charge as much as they like. So long as Apple doesn't comply with the GPL, they can either choose to stop distributing it or they can choose compliance with the license. Taking the program down is not their only option.

    Apple is distributing the VLC port. That VLC port is licensed under the GPL. So yes they do need to comply with the GPL which requires distributing complete corresponding source code to the program (a safe and easy way is to distribute complete corresponding source code right along side the binary distribution [gnu.org]), or distribute a written promise for the program's complete corresponding source code with the binary. Either would be compliant with GPLv2 or GPLv3 (which are the two versions that cover the vast majority of GPLd programs).

    On the other hand, I don't particularly like the idea that an app I submit to the App Store could be subject to a unilateral veto by someone else spuriously claiming my app violates the GPL and they wrote some code in it.

    Do you have reason to believe Denis-Courmont's claim of infringement is wrong? Anyone can claim any program infringes on their copyright regardless of license, that doesn't make their claim legitimate. That doesn't appear to be what's going on here so I'm not sure why you brought this up at

  • Re:Looks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mgiuca (1040724) on Monday November 01, 2010 @12:01AM (#34085594)

    But it's hard to install unless you know how to jailbreak your iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad.

    That's precisely why it's a violation of the GPL.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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