Apple exploits Free Software and denies it to its customers

POSTED IN m2m Blog, News 9.01.2011

The Apple Mac OS X system features Free Software, just as many UNIX-like operating systems do. There’s no harm in that. It is good practice to reuse code that has been widely tested and is actively developed. So its fair to say that Apple benefits from Free Software. Strangely it doesn’t allow its customers to have these benefits. Apple explicitly forbids Free Software in the Apple App Store’s Terms of Service (ToS). One of the first victims are users of the popular VLC media player. The VLC player has been pulled from the App Store because of its Free Software licensing.

The opinion of the VLC developer community on this matter is divided. In October a developer named Rémi Denis-Courmont contacted Apple regarding the GPL and Apple’s redistribution of the code. Apparently Apple has no interest in honouring the license and simply decided to remove software in order not do deal with the licensing issues. Brett Smith, FSF Licensing Compliance Engineer, summarises: „Apple ‘only’ allows you to do the activities in the list of Usage Rules, if an activity does not appear in this list, you’re not allowed to do it at all.“

So far the Android platform has not presented an incompatibility with Free Software. Furthermore you are not required to pay a fee for writing code for Android. Our recommendation is to stay clear off Apple and focus on other platform that do not forbid the development of Free Software.

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