Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Apple: Screw GNU/GPL, we just don't care about your Copyright License!

      After four long years of wait the AppsStore is starting to get more than joke programs called "apps". One of the first real software programs available on the AppStore is the VLC media player (VLC and MPlayer were available for Nokia's Maemo/MeeGo platform a few weeks after the launch!).
      Even though there are no decent any codec/any format players on the Appstore and the iPhone has a very limited multimedia support to say the least, the developer wants to yank it, because Apple's "violating GNU public license under which VLC is released by applying DRM to it".
     VLC's lead developer, Rémi Denis-Courmont, said that "it is to be expected that Apple will cease distribution soon," due to the "intransigently tight control Apple maintains over its mobile applications platform."
     Basically, Apple's used of DRM when it distributes the app, where it must be downloaded separately for each individual iOS device (rather than being able to be copied from device to device), doesn't sit happy with the VLC developers, who support the GNU General Public License, or GPL for short—which describes itself as "a free, copyleft license for software and other kinds of works."
It's slightly bizarre, considering the app is free, but you've got to give Denis-Courmont respect for sticking to his guns. He told iLounge that:
"Some people have commented that this will damage the project's reputation. Maybe so. Blame those who published and/or advertized VLC for iPad. The fact of the GPL incompatibility was already well known. JB himself described it as a "grey area". They decided to take the risk anyway, and they bear full responsibility for any consequences. Personally, I don't blame them because I know very well how a geek feels when writing cool code for a cool new gadget."
       Apple has a habit of bending rules when it comes to PR and their best interest however user freedom was never one of their priorities, so we'd suggest you do it now before it is removed from the store (Denis-Courmont has already sent Apple a formal notification of copyright infringement), otherwise the only way to be able to play the most popular and widespread file formats (AVI, WMV, MPEG + DivX, XviD etc) in the future is if you jailbreak the iOS device and use Cydia instead.

Via iLounge