VLC for iPhone and iPad may disappear thanks to GPL complaints -- go get it now
byNilay Patel||November 1st 2010 at 1:48pmNovember 1st 2010 1:48 pm
There's always been tension between Apple's tight control of the iOS App Store and the DRM-free license requirements of the GPL, and it seems like things are coming to a head over VLC, the open-source video player. As you'll recall, VLC was just released for the iPad and iPhone in the past few months, but the port was done by a company called Applidium -- not VLC developer VideoLAN, which holds the copyright and licenses the code under the GPL. VideoLAN now says that since VLC for iOS includes Apple's FairPlay DRM, it's in violation of the GPL and must be pulled -- and that "concerned users are advised to look for applications on more open mobile platforms for the time being." That's certainly fair enough, although we do find it a bit sensationalist that the takedown notice was sent to Apple and not Applidium, since it's technically Applidium that violated the GPL. Then again, the statement was written by VideoLAN developer Rémi Deni-Courmont, who is also senior MeeGo software engineer, so we can see why he'd be interested in promoting a "more open" project. Whatever the case, it doesn't seem like VLC for iOS is long for this world -- you'd best go grab it as quickly as possible. Like, now.
Update: It seems like there's significant dissension in the VideoLAN ranks, as the project's official Twitter page now says there are no problems and is linking to another forum post with some armchair legal analysis of Apple's App Store Terms and Conditions. That sounds like we're in for months of arguing, since huge GPL projects like VLC have layers upon layers of nested copyrights, and no one person can really pursue action without the consent of everyone else, but we'll keep an eye on things. In the meantime, we'd suggest VideoLAN find a lawyer or two to give them a definitive answer on the GPL / App Store question -- it'll save everyone a lot of time and frustration.