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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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  • by TraumaHound (30184) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:24AM (#34079548)

    He thinks there's no real issue here.

    http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1850340 [ycombinator.com]

    As a major VLC developer, I have to say that the FSF is pushing bad faith and FUD.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:25AM (#34079552)

    So Apple *may* remove the VLC iPad app, because the people that own VLC tell Apple there's a license violation - knowing that in the past this means Apple will pull the app.

    Isn't the definition of insanity repeating the same action and expecting different results?

    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. You need to keep things like VLC alive in the app store, so that users will be more tempted to use non-DRM downloads and consume them on modern computing devices.

    But instead, the FSF is playing into the hands of the media companies by keeping things like VLC player out of the mainstream and attacking the only company with the same goals of ending DRM. Nice work FSF, this is seriously making me re-think my yearly donation...

  • Re:Looks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BrokenHalo (565198) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:25AM (#34079554)
    Exactly. It's not exactly hard to download VLC from its home site. I now use VLC exclusively on my MacBook for playing video media - much easier for those of us living in Australia, with DVDs obtained from the US, UK, Canada and Australia.

    Apple, of course, offers you a limited number of times you can change the region of your DVD device, but VLC just ignores the region setting altogether. As far as I'm concerned, I've paid for legitimate media, the artists involved get their royalties, so Apple has no business standing in the way of my using said media.
  • Re:Download now? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KiloByte (825081) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:30AM (#34079584)

    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.

  • Re:Looks (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DurendalMac (736637) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:54AM (#34079760)
    I think this is more of an issue with iOS devices, not the Mac App Store.
  • by 0123456 (636235) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:27PM (#34079962)

    Why would I bother developing something just to keep it to myself?

    Lots of companies develop software internally which will never be released outside the company. They don't have to make source available to anyone other than those who use it inside the company.

    I would only develop something to sell myself, or something my employer could use. GPL doesn't let me do either without giving away how I did it by releasing the source code.

    Which is only fair, because your code wouldn't work without all the code that others have contributed for free.

    As mentioned, the only 'right' BSD gives that GPL doesn't is the right to prevent end users from getting access to the source. That's not 'freedom' in any sense I can imagine.

  • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:33PM (#34080008) Homepage

    Actually it's the distributor's rules that are depriving users of useful programs and it's Apple that is committing copyright infringement. If they want to create monopolistic app stores, it's not a copyright holder's job to cave into their desire. The user can be taught about this issue, news stories like these and user experiences losing apps (Apple has the controls to remove/add apps as per their will) create learning opportunities. Just like Amazon's example with the Swindle did.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:50PM (#34080136)

    So here's what I've understand:

    • Applidium (not associated with the VLC developers) uploaded VLC to Apple's iOS App store
    • VLC developer says that the App store guidelines are incompatible with GPL licensing because of DRM
    • Apple may remove the app ("kick out the app")
    • VLC developer is complaining that Apple should change their policies instead.
    • VLC developer laments that Mac App Store may have DRM too

    First of all, the developer is pointing out that the licensing may be incompatible and then complains that Apple is "kicking out GPL'ed" apps. I wouldn't describe it "kicking out" when the developer is kinda asking Apple to remove the app. What Apple isn't doing is changing their entire licensing agreements to suit this one developer.

    Second, the developer is assuming that the Mac App store will have DRM. I've heard conflicting stories. Some say yes. Some say no. Anybody have access to the Apple Mac App Store Agreement that can shed some light on this.

    Third, is it me or if the VLC developer has issues with the Mac App store, they can simply choose not to use it? Apple isn't removing the other ways to get an application (online, retail, etc); they are simply introducing a new one. Remember iOS devices are locked in that Apple has removed the ability for users to access the file system on the devices (without jailbreaking). With OS X, full access to the file system would make it extremely difficult to lock down the system. The Mac App store launches in 90 days so unless there are some major changes to Snow Leopard, it is highly unlikely. With Lion Apple might shift towards that direction but until that's down the road.

  • Re:Apple vs OSS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by aristotle-dude (626586) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @01:10PM (#34080292)

    Is this the final proof that Apple is not compatible with (GPL'ed) OSS?
    I sincerely hope so, because then we can finally lose the fanboys and talk about more interesting stuff here.

    And maybe for those occasions where somebody still has an urge to talk about Apple, we can change the icon into something borg-like, as we have for M$.

    By the way... if only BSD had a GPL license...

    I have a question for you. Do you enjoy using the internet? That TCP/IP that you are using is the ubiquitous "OPEN STANDARD" because the stack was originally released as BSD licensed code. Do you enjoy other OPEN standards? The majority of them exist because they the sample code was licensed as BSD or similar license. FOSS license do NOT encourage creation of OPEN STANDARDS and formats to the same degree as licenses like BSD. Licenses like BSD allow corporations to participate in development and collaboration over standards/protocols including a common compatible implementation while allowing them to use that code in their own software without fear of viral contamination of their own intellectual property.

    The GPL is not the best license to use if you want to further an open standard and interoperability between software platforms and applications. It is only useful if you want to keep it closed within the FOSS community.

  • Re:Looks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @01:24PM (#34080402) Journal
    That's curious. Nearly all of the DVD players sold in the UK (unless you're only talking about drives for computers?) are region free.
  • Re:Looks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 2010 @01:46PM (#34080594)

    All this fight is doing is depriving iOS users of a helpful piece of software that they really need. It's not helping VideoLAN, it's not helping the developer, it's not helping Apple, and it certainly is not helping the users.

    Look at what iD did: they've got DOOM [idsoftware.com] on the App Store (and AFAIK it's still there). Carmack based his port on a GPLed mod of the engine to speed development time. Instead of asking Apple to remove the DRM (which they won't do), he gives out the code [idsoftware.com] and instructions [idsoftware.com] on how to build it.

  • Re:Looks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RotateLeftByte (797477) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @02:34PM (#34081068)

    Ok then. Ask youself these two questions.

    1) exactly what version of Android is it running (my guess 1.6) ?
    2) Can this version be upgraded ? (my Augen Tablet can't be upgraded)

    So very well shell out your $149 + tax but you will be in a software dead end.

    My advice to anyone who want (note the word wants..) and Android tablet is to wait until Android V3 ships and decently priced Capacitive Touch Screen Tables get released.
    The whole user experience will be a whole lot nicer and you will be $149 (+tax) better off.

    Also, the Android AR Apps I'm writing now won't work on Android V1.6 (well they won't be supported)

  • Re:Looks (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rossdee (243626) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @03:08PM (#34081414)

    DVD drives are relatively cheap. Buy a couple external ones and set them to the other regions you want to use. Don't tell the MPAA .

  • Re:Looks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CarpetShark (865376) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @04:14PM (#34082102)

    "You could just as easlily say that the GPL is incompatible with the App store as the other way round."

    Not when the app store flies in the face of decades of standard software distribution/installation practices.

  • Re:Looks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by minorDistraction (1594683) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @04:51PM (#34082402)
    Re licensing may very well not be possible. Like most other FOSS software, VLC includes work of many people. They would have to get each and every contributing author to agree with the re-licensing. The conclusion is very likely: it cannot be done. What Apple would need to do is make a distinction between free and commercial apps.
  • This is stupid (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheSync (5291) on Monday November 01, 2010 @07:03PM (#34096126) Journal

    This kind of thing makes companies afraid to every use GPLed software because some random developer can come along at any time and initiate legal action against you.

    The source code is freely available. Why the hell do we care about the binary? What if you have to run an encrypted binary for a secure, embedded solution, is that against the GPL as well?

    This analysis [videolan.org] shows that the case for App Store infringing on the GPLv2.0 is weak.

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