Apple Pulls Open Source VLC Media Player from App Store

Monday Jan 10th 2011 by Keith Vance
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After a VLC developer complained about the App Store's terms of use being incompatible with the GPL, Apple has finally pulled the VLC media player.

Last Friday, Apple pulled the VLC media player from its application store for iDevices. The problem is that the Apple's App Store terms of use are incompatible with the GPL.

"Thus the incompatibility between the GNU General Public License and the App Store terms of use is resolved-the hard way. This end should not have come to a surprise to anyone, given the precedents," VLC and Linux developer Remi Denis-Courmont said.

It was Denis-Courmont who pointed out the license incompatibility back in October. He sent a formal "copyright infringement" letter to Apple regarding the distribution of the VLC media player on iOS devices.

But some members of the VLC open source community were not happy about Denis-Courmont's position.

"Some people have commented," he said in October, "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."

The VLC media player for iOS was created by the French mobile company Applidium. Applidium co-founder Romain Goyet told Ars Technica, "The way I see it, we're not violating anyone's freedom. We worked for free, opened all our source code, and the app is available for free for anyone to download. People are enjoying a nice free and open source video player on the AppStore, and some people are trying to ruin it in the name of 'freedom.'"

ZDNet's Steven Vaughan-Nichols said, "You might say that Denis-Courmont was saying that 'Don't ask, don't tell' is not an acceptable free-software/open-source policy in dealing with restrictive app store ToS."


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