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Media Open Source Apple

Apple Pulls VLC Media Player From AppStore 754

Posted by timothy
from the don't-want-your-kind-'round-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Apple has removed VLC media player from the App Store, putting an end to the controversy on the license (in)compatibilities. Indeed, the iTunes page for VLC media player stopped working. VLC developer Rémi Denis-Courmont notes that he is 'not going to pity the owners of iDevices, and not even the MobileVLC developers who doubtless wasted a lot of their time. This end should not have come to a surprise to anyone.'"
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Apple Pulls VLC Media Player From AppStore

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  • heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:19PM (#34799440) Homepage Journal

    a glimpse of the future - when the only way to get "apps" on any computer have to come from the company store.

    • Re:heh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851) on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:22PM (#34799478)
      It used to be like that until the union movement broke it up.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Joo90ZWrUkU

      I just wonder what it will take to stop it next time. People tend to tolerate that sort of behavior for quite a while.
    • Google is starting to eat Apple's lunch on mobile phones and will do so on the desktop/laptop/tablet if they try to exert such tight control over what their users do on their larger devices. They got away with it on the mobile phones because their interface was so far ahead of anyone else when they got started.

      • Google is starting to eat Apple's lunch on mobile phones and will do so on the desktop/laptop/tablet if they try to exert such tight control over what their users do on their larger devices. They got away with it on the mobile phones because their interface was so far ahead of anyone else when they got started.

        Different business models. Android is aiming for it to be installed on everything, so the Android device market is not designed to be a high margin businesses. Since there are no iOS makers except iPhone, they charge what they want and people are forced to pay. Their net profits has exceeded that of the Android market this past year despite a smaller market share. As long as what Apple disciples are willing to pay allows them to net more money than an open system, there's no incentive for them to change business models.

        If Apple's market share shrinks to the point that serious handheld app developers no longer feel to make an iPhone version of their apps at all, maybe at that point Apple would be forced to switch, but until then, they're raking in the bucks.

    • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by devilspgd (652955) <slashdot@devilspgd.net> on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:34PM (#34799604) Homepage

      1984 adapted to the modern era where instead of the gov't being in control, corporations control the gov't and us.

      • Re:heh (Score:5, Funny)

        by NJRoadfan (1254248) on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:44PM (#34799754)
        Ironic that Apple has become the Big Brother they depicted in the original 1984 Macintosh ad. Then again Steve Jobs was always a control freak. Sealed all-in-one Macs with little upgrade options was his thing. When he left, the Mac II with slots showed up.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hsmith (818216)
        The nice thing is, no corporation can force me to be part of them.

        Government on the other hand, I have no choice to be controlled.
      • Erich Fromm wrote an interesting essay that was included as an afterword to some editions of 1984 where he argues that the concept of doublethink can be found just as easily in corporate culture as it can in government. And it's not surprising -- big government, big business, and big media are so incestuous it's often difficult to draw lines of clear distinction among them.

      • It's not "instead". Rather, corporations and government cooperate more and more closely. It's called "fascism", and it's how the Nazi state functioned.

    • by Tiger4 (840741)

      As long as you don't owe your soul [lyricsmode.com] to them, no problem

    • Re:heh (Score:5, Informative)

      by jo_ham (604554) <joham999&gmail,com> on Friday January 07, 2011 @09:15PM (#34800176)

      So, the summary conveniently "forgets" that the app was pulled *at the request of one of the VLC developers themselves* due to a licence compatibility issue.

      No, that would be less sensational and more accurate - what was I thinking?!

      • Re:heh (Score:4, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 07, 2011 @11:15PM (#34801052)

        So, the summary conveniently "forgets" that the app was pulled *at the request of one of the VLC developers themselves* due to a licence compatibility issue.

        No, that would be less sensational and more accurate - what was I thinking?!

        Where do you think you are? Get out of here with your facts.

      • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by martin-boundary (547041) on Saturday January 08, 2011 @12:09AM (#34801388)

        So, the summary conveniently "forgets" that the app was pulled *at the request of one of the VLC developers themselves* due to a licence compatibility issue.

        It's up to the *distributor* (ie Apple) to make sure that their license terms don't break the GPL. That's the price for the privilege of distributing the software. Just because they're a big company doesn't absolve them from following the rules.

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday January 07, 2011 @09:17PM (#34800194)

      They guy who requested VLC be pulled works for Nokia. So you do the math as to why Apple was asked to remove an app Nokia had power over...

  • by Kenja (541830) on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:21PM (#34799460)
    Still, good to know I was right to not bother with the iOS platform. Its fine for some people and I dont dismiss their choice, but I want better developer support in my mobile devices.
  • by Senes (928228) on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:21PM (#34799462)
    I was a Mac user until recently, and an Apple II user before I started with Macs. But lately, I just absolutely refuse to use anything with their brand on it because of this precise behavior.

    All I ask is that the device I pay for allow me to use it as I please instead of requiring the company's permission for each little chunk of code that executes. Give me just that and I'll be happy to buy.
    • by Kenja (541830) on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:24PM (#34799494)
      I agree with you, however that is not what many people want. There are enough people who want to only be able to run software that has been vetted by someone to support Apple, Microsoft and everyone else who chooses to follow this behavior. Just accept that the iOS platform is not for you and move on.
      • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:30PM (#34799566) Journal

        The shame is that the companies seem to feel that it's an all or nothing choice. Flash up a big red warning that states "Unsupported software" if you must, but give me the option to use the hardware freely.

        • by SpacePunk (17960) on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:34PM (#34799600) Homepage

          You talk as if you own the hardware or something.

        • by Tiger4 (840741)

          That could, and should, be two levels of product support. The Basic, "here's a working machine, good luck, we'll return it to this state if you want us to" and the Advanced, "here is a machine tuned to work a lot of apps, according to our sensibilities". Most auto manufacturers offered this two-tiered approach during the Golden Age of Detroit. The luxo makers probably still do.

        • by donny77 (891484)
          Jailbreak. Do what you want. Face the reality. Their needs to be a high barrier to being able to do anything with your phone. The average person can not tell legitimate software from a keylogger if you write the word "free" on it. Jailbreaking puts a barrier to ensure only technical people do anything with their phone. And Apple doesn't get a phone call from your grandma cause she installed solitaire and it rooted her phone and stole her identity. Everybody wins!
          • by jedidiah (1196)

            ...funny how none of this was ever a problem with something like MacOS until after the iPhone came out.

            Now all of a sudden people are crawling out of the woodwork to declare that even MacOS isn't safe if you treat the end user like a free man.

      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        Most people don't want a computer. They want a game console that can check emails and facebook. I want a computer. I guess it is time computers become a niche market again.
    • by Goaway (82658) on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:31PM (#34799576) Homepage

      You know the creators of VLC were calling for it to be removed, yes?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by idobi (820896)
      It's suddenly Apple's fault that the developers squabble over GNU license?
    • by codepunk (167897)

      Show those bastards you mean business by sending me all of your cool mac gear for free.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by gnasher719 (869701)

      I was a Mac user until recently, and an Apple II user before I started with Macs. But lately, I just absolutely refuse to use anything with their brand on it because of this precise behavior.

      What behaviour? You mean the behaviour of a developer who is so desparate to defend user's freedom that he even prevents them from using the software in the first place?

      What would be really fun would be to take the guy to court to get a declaratory judgement that publishing a GPL licensed application on the app store is _not_ in violation of the GPL and therefore not copyright infringement.

    • by CheerfulMacFanboy (1900788) on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:47PM (#34799798) Journal
      I was a VLC user until recently. But lately, I just absolutely refuse to use anything with their brand on it because of this precise behavior. Ohh, and the bugs with missing audio in some MPEG2 files that no other player has, and that they haven't been able to fix for the last couple of years.
    • by mardukvmbc (244275) on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:58PM (#34799956)

      I'm a dedicated linux user for the past 5 years and I'm thinking of dumping it all and going to macs.

      I spend way too much time fiddling and screwing around trying to get normal things to work. The other day for example my wife wanted a sound to come on when she got an email in thunderbird. Should be easy, no? Doesn't work on ubuntu without some serious googling/screwing around. Google earth which for some reason vanished from the medibuntu repository... same deal. For some reason the installer set the symlink to point somewhere else. And still the fonts are screwed up, don't know why.

      Or one of my favorites? Kdenlive, a great video editor, can't export to h.264 out of the box on ubuntu because it uses lame so you have to put your own custom export in. Or a recent clean install of Kubuntu 10.10 that left the master mixing channel muted (not through kmix but through alsamixer). Or the fact that the newest ubuntu amarok packages kill it's ability to talk to my wife's ipod. On and on. I'm not pointing fingers here, the devs and packagers do a fab job for the most part but it's always just shy of the goal line it seems.

      Look, I loves me linux, but I have 3 kids, a wife, a job, and a life. And I won't do windows not for the least part because of the safety factor for my kids and wife not downloading shite. So do I want to come home from my IT job and have a nice safe controlled environment for my wife and kids to hop on, do email, surf the web, etc in a reasonably safe way where I don't need to spend hours on end fiddling when something doesn't work? Sounds f'ing great to me.

      • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld.gmail@com> on Friday January 07, 2011 @09:58PM (#34800538) Homepage
        Ever thought about Windows 7? It's actually quite stable and well-designed.
      • by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Friday January 07, 2011 @10:07PM (#34800616) Journal
        Why not use Windows 7 and give them an account with limited rights. Rather hard to break it that way.
      • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday January 07, 2011 @11:33PM (#34801160) Homepage

        > Kdenlive, a great video editor, can't export
        > to h.264 out of the box on ubuntu because it
        > uses lame so you have to put your own custom
        > export in

        Sounds kind of like iMovie won't deal with anything except Quicktime files.

        If you think the Mac will allow you to avoid all of the annoying futzing, you are sadly mistaken and bound to be disappointed.

        • by nblender (741424) on Saturday January 08, 2011 @10:24AM (#34803822)
          Simply not true. I'm both. A linux user and embedded firmware developer so for the most part, I knows my shizzle... My preferred environment is OSX because shit just works. I have to use Linux at my customer site and the fact that I can't play a .wav file in amarok or use aplay to play the .wav file while amarok is playing an mp3 is dumb. The fact that I have to futz around with xrandr to get multiple heads to work on my laptop. The fact that I can't turn off my laptop built-in speakers with a headset plugged in (even though windows on the same hardware manages to do it); blah blah blah blah.. Best example I can see yet? I gave my son my old Powerbook G4 and an Ubuntu 10 DVD. He got Ubuntu installed on the PBG4 and got Firefox, Thunderbird, Tuxkart, and so forth installed and running... But the fiddling was just too much... I mean seriously, in order to get the wireless working, he had to download a broadcom firmware bundle from openwrt.org, open an xterm, build a downloaded .c file to extract the correct firmware image from the bundle, install it in /lib/firmware/mumblemumble and reboot just to get wireless working.... He's 9 years old FFS... It took him 2 days of experimentation to get the wireless working. Eventually he decided Linux wasn't for him and reinstalled OSX...
      • by peppepz (1311345) on Saturday January 08, 2011 @09:58AM (#34803676)

        I'm a dedicated linux user for the past 5 years and I'm thinking of dumping it all and going to macs.

        Instead I'm a dedicated mac user and I'm thinking of dumping it all and going to linux. ;)

        I spend way too much time fiddling and screwing around trying to get normal things to work. The other day for example my wife wanted a sound to come on when she got an email in thunderbird. Should be easy, no? Doesn't work on ubuntu without some serious googling/screwing around. Google earth which for some reason vanished from the medibuntu repository... same deal. For some reason the installer set the symlink to point somewhere else. And still the fonts are screwed up, don't know why.

        I spend way too much time fiddling and screwing around trying to get normal things to work. And Apple keeps deleting my posts when I whine on their support forums. The other day for example I wanted to connect my Android phone to my macbook. Should be easy, no? Doesn't work on a mac at all because "RNDIS is a Microsoft protocol".

        Or one of my favorites? Kdenlive, a great video editor, can't export to h.264 out of the box on ubuntu because it uses lame so you have to put your own custom export in.

        After I switched to linux, kdenlive exported to h.264 out of the box simply by choosing "H.264" from the format list (which included HDV, DV, MPEG2, MPEG4, Xvid, Flash, RealVideo, Theora and Webm). Of course, that only worked after I enabled the restricted codecs, which aren't "restricted" by any technical reason, but only by the illiberal laws of some countries which sacrifice civil liberties to create monopolies for the profit of big enterprises. Thankfully I don't live in one of them.

        Or a recent clean install of Kubuntu 10.10 that left the master mixing channel muted (not through kmix but through alsamixer).

        Effectively I have some problems with that %$&%# PulseAudio which keeps eating all of my CPU just to play an MP3 :D ...

        Or the fact that the newest ubuntu amarok packages kill it's ability to talk to my wife's ipod.

        ...but I'm happy anyway because I switched to a non-Apple mp3 player which doesn't require me to either use a closed, buggy, heavy, alien, limited application or to rely on amateur reverse-engineered libraries just to transfer music on it. It also costed much less and does have a removable battery.

        Look, I loves me linux, but I have 3 kids, a wife, a job, and a life.

        Look, I love Apple devices, but I have an underpaid IT job, so I can't afford to spend 3x the money to buy underpowered hardware.

    • by Graff (532189) on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:58PM (#34799960)

      I was a Mac user until recently, and an Apple II user before I started with Macs. But lately, I just absolutely refuse to use anything with their brand on it because of this precise behavior.

      What behavior? Apple clearly stated their terms for the use of the service. The VLC media player developers use a license which is not compatible with those terms. In fact, it was those developers who took the first action [videolan.org]:

      Today, a formal notification of copyright infringement was sent to Apple Inc. regarding distribution of the VLC media player for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

      Apple simply complied with the notification and took down the app in question. If the developers want their software in Apple's App Store then they should release it under a compatible license. I'm sure they can (and perhaps they have) also try to convince Apple to change the terms of the app store.

      Every store has to have rules or it'd be complete anarchy. Sometimes these rules are going to get in the way of someone's idea of how it should all work. This is one of those times. Obviously Apple's rules work for a lot of cases since there are tons of apps, both good and bad, in the app store. There's nothing evil going on here, it's just two entities enforcing the terms of use for their properties.

      • by t2t10 (1909766)

        Every store has to have rules or it'd be complete anarchy.

        Yes, Apple just chose bad rules, which is why both developers and users should start avoiding it. App stores don't have to have bad rules.

        There's nothing evil going on here, it's just two entities enforcing the terms of use for their properties.

        Apple is asserting rights over what I can install on hardware that I own. That is wrong, and it is a threat to software development and freedom of communications.

        Obviously Apple's rules work for a lot of cas

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday January 07, 2011 @09:09PM (#34800102)

      But lately, I just absolutely refuse to use anything with their brand on it because of this precise behavior.

      You refuse to use Apple because when someone issues a copyright challenge against an App Apple actually listens and removes it from the store?

  • by timeOday (582209) on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:33PM (#34799598)
    As interpreted (by me) from the horse's mouth [fsf.org]: the appStore licence says you can only install the software on 5 approved devices, whereas of course the GPL specifically prohibits that type of restriction. Plus, the appStore licence says, "The Usage Rules shall govern your rights with respect to the Products, in addition to any other terms or rules that may have been established between you and another party." That means, the software author cannot undercut the appStore restrictions with a less restrictive licence such as the GPL, even if they want to.

    INAL, but I wonder why the developer couldn't offer the identical software through separate, more open channels in addition to the appStore, thus satisfying the GPL even though the appStore distribution channel in itself does not satisfy the GPL?

    • by Tiger4 (840741)

      Maybe iPhone users cannot or will not install software that doesn't come from the store? I mean, I'm sure it is possible to do, but the hurdle is too big for them to seriously consider it. Whether that hurdle is technical, or more of an attitude adjustment, or just ignorance is not always obvious.

    • by gnasher719 (869701) on Friday January 07, 2011 @09:03PM (#34800032)

      As interpreted (by me) from the horse's mouth [fsf.org]: the appStore licence says you can only install the software on 5 approved devices, whereas of course the GPL specifically prohibits that type of restriction. Plus, the appStore licence says, "The Usage Rules shall govern your rights with respect to the Products, in addition to any other terms or rules that may have been established between you and another party." That means, the software author cannot undercut the appStore restrictions with a less restrictive licence such as the GPL, even if they want to.

      Here is what the app store _actually_ says:

      "You acknowledge that: you are purchasing the license to each Third-Party Product from the third-party licensor of that Third-Party Product (the "Application Provider"); Apple is acting as agent for the Application Provider in providing each such Third-Party Product to you; and Apple is not a party to the license between you and the Application Provider with respect to that Third-Party Product. The Application Provider of each Third-Party Product is solely responsible for that Third-Party Product, the content therein, any warranties to the extent that such warranties have not been disclaimed, and any claims that you or any other party may have relating to that Third-Party Product."

      So for GPL licensed software, Apple just provides a downloading service to the end user; there is no software license agreement between you and Apple at all. Apple limits what Apple will do for the end user: They are willing to put copies onto five computers owned by one person, but not six. That doesn't limit what the end user is allowed to do. They don't get any further assistance from Apple, so making more copies is a bit more complicated (involves downloading the software, modifying it as you like, recompiling it, possible for another device), but Apple is _not_ restricting what they allow you to do. And you only have to jump through these hoops if you decide to be an ass; if you want to give the same software to all your iPhone owning friends, just tell them where to find it on the store.

      There is a little bit of subtleness: Apple sells software licenses on behalf of third parties, and that is what the end user pays for, not the application itself. As GPL allows charging for the software, but not for the license, you can't publish GPL licensed software through the AppStore unless it is free as in free bear.

  • Won't be missed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Renderer of Evil (604742) on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:35PM (#34799612) Homepage

    VLC is a nice player on the desktop but there are far more superior solutions for the iPhone/iPad like AirVideo that isn't swamped in petty GPL politics. Plus the VLC interface on the iPhone was pretty bad. I'd be concerned if it was the only game in town. Otherwise, it's a non-story. This is VLC's loss.

    It reminds me of Mozilla's backwards, dogmatic horseshit about supporting "open source" and not getting on the h.264 bandwagon with the rest of the grownups, all the while enabling the extremely user-hostile and proprietary Flash. Now their share is slowly being chipped away by Chrome which suffers from none of the political idiocy that comes with some FOSS projects.

    Moving on.

    • by Cwix (1671282)

      VLC was a piece of free software, how is it their loss?

      Did they lose customers, did revenue go down?

      • by Goaway (82658)

        Obviously, free software does not achieve success by making money.

        It does, however, succeed by having people actually use it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Narcocide (102829)

      I call bullshit on your claim that Mozilla "enables" Flash in any way. Flash supports the general plugin architecture Mozilla and other browsers inherited from Netscape 4, which predates the existence of Flash entirely. The problem with the h.264 thing is that using it for HTML5 implies that the browser would have to support it natively. Mozilla does NOT support Flash natively. There is absolutely no comparison, your argument is rubbish based on inaccurate, misinformed technical assumptions.

    • Re:Won't be missed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Friday January 07, 2011 @09:20PM (#34800232)

      It reminds me of Mozilla's backwards, dogmatic horseshit about supporting "open source" and not getting on the h.264 bandwagon with the rest of the grownups, all the while enabling the extremely user-hostile and proprietary Flash. Now their share is slowly being chipped away by Chrome which suffers from none of the political idiocy that comes with some FOSS projects.

      I'm pretty sure it takes an addon for me to get Flash working in my Firefox browser. Mozilla doesn't enable it. The use of H.264, however, would be embedded within Mozilla's code and would require Mozilla to support / license accordingly. I understand that these things are probably difficult to understand as you're still having trouble with what a "grownup" is.

    • Re:Won't be missed (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Doctor_Jest (688315) on Friday January 07, 2011 @09:58PM (#34800536)
      h.264 is going to blow up in everyone's face... you just wait. It's like a dormant cancer that will come alive once it's killed off the other codecs... then the patent holders will reach for YOUR wallet to pay for the "privilege" of using their "IP."

      I prefer a dodgy GPL'ed version than a proprietary bunch of nonsense that restricts my freedom to do what I want with what I paid for (my computer...) You can keep your "idiocy free" non-FOSS... I side with the "idiots" who are interested in freedom and choice.
  • There was a time (ask your parents if you're under 40) when you rented your telephone from the phone company. No different than today you rent your cable box. The only phone that was allowed to plug into the wall jack was the one you rented from the phone company.

    Fast forward X years...

    There was a time (ask your parents if you're under 40) when you didn't rent your applications from the computer/tablet/smartphone company. No different than today you rent your time machine. The only application that was

  • What exactly are the details behind this? I understand that Apple's walled garden really does not have to have any reason for what they allow or disallow. But I don't follow what Rémi is alluding too. (Disclaimer: I've not owned any Apple products since my //e and while I have worked on them they are not something I do much with.)

  • LOL (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ThisIsNotMyHandel (1013943) on Friday January 07, 2011 @08:42PM (#34799730)
    This has nothing to do with Apple, rather with VLC. Not sure why people are hating on Apple for this.
  • Spin much? (Score:5, Informative)

    by leamanc (961376) on Friday January 07, 2011 @09:22PM (#34800256) Homepage Journal

    There's a lot of spin here. Apple pulled this at the request of a developer, over concerns of the GPL-licensed components contained in VLC. A lot of folks were surprised that VLC even made it the store, as App Store rules pretty much violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the GPL. Apple was more than happy to keep VLC in the store, but everyone is very happy to spin them as evil yet again. Not that they haven't done some tacky things with App Store takedowns, but really that seems to be more and more a thing of the past.

    For more info on the reasons VLC was pulled, check out this Engadget article [engadget.com], just one of many articles out there that reports the truth of the issue.

    As a side note, I love VLC; it does a lot on the Mac mini hooked to my HDTV. It's absolutely essential on Linux. But the iOS version was not that great. The one thing I use VLC for more than anything is its network streaming capabilities (remember, it's the Video LAN Client, first and foremost), and this feature didn't make it to the iOS version. So I never used it. Yeah, it's good to have to play videos that QuickTime can't handle, but I've never had occasion to view such videos on my iPhone or iPad. And if I have to use iTunes to load the videos onto my iPhone or iPad, that means the videos are on my computer, where I am more likely to watch them (with the OS X version of VLC, or QuickTime with Perian).

    • Re:Spin much? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Archimonde (668883) on Saturday January 08, 2011 @04:28AM (#34802388) Homepage

      As a side note, I love VLC; it does a lot on the Mac mini hooked to my HDTV. It's absolutely essential on Linux. But the iOS version was not that great.

      The main feature of the iOS version was that you could drag and drop pretty much any unconverted/torrented video file to the iphone and VLC would play it.
      Try that with the default player and report the results please.

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