If you haven’t already downloaded VLC Media Player for your iPhone and iPad, now’s the time to grab it if you want it, as it may soon be pulled from the App Store.
One of the contributors to the VLC project, Rémi Denis-Courmont, has filed a formal copyright complaint against the app, which could see it pulled by Apple very soon.
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. VLC media player is free software licensed solely under the terms of the open source GNU General Public License (a.k.a. GPL). Those terms are contradicted by the products usage rules of the AppStore through which Apple delivers applications to users of its mobile devices.
Denis-Courmont claims that by applying DRM to the application when selling it through the App Store, Apple is violating the GNU public license (GPL) under which VLC is released.
Even though the app is a free download, each copy is tied to a specific user account when it is downloaded, and like any other iOS app, it’s not possible to copy it from one device to another. However, the GPL requires that any software using that license, and any derivative works, are able to be freely copied and distributed.
It seems the developers that created the iOS version of VLC made a mistake when they submitted it to the App Store, as Apple’s rules concerning iOS apps are incompatible with the GPL. Therefore, it seems the App Store is an unsuitable form of distribution for any strictly GPLv2 licensed software.
Despite the complaint, the official VideoLan site supports the VLC app for iOS, and tweets on their Twitter account state, “So far, VLC is not going out of the AppStore,” and, “Maybe the FSF should actually ask us our opinion instead of writing misleading articles about VLC.”
It’s a shame the VLC app for iOS could be pulled, because it’s possibly the best media player available, and it’s free. It also made it in to Cult of Mac’s must-have iOS apps this week after the app went universal, making it compatible with the iPhone.
If you want it, grab it while you still can from the App Store.