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Media Software Cellphones Handhelds IOS Music

VLC For iOS Returns On July 19, Rewritten and Fully Open-Sourced 203

Posted by timothy
from the media-player-beats-media-platform dept.
An anonymous reader writes "VideoLAN revealed some very exciting news today: VLC for iOS will be back in Apple's App Store by tomorrow (July 19). The company tells TNW the app will be available for free worldwide, requires iOS 5.1 or later, as well supports the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. As you can expect, VLC for iOS version 2.0 will be open-source. This time, however, its code will be available online (also by tomorrow), bi-licensed under both the Mozilla Public License Version 2 as well as the GNU General Public License Version 2 or later."
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VLC For iOS Returns On July 19, Rewritten and Fully Open-Sourced

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  • 3 2 1 Takedown (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kthreadd (1558445) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @05:09PM (#44321829)

    I don't understand how they think this will work. LibVLC is LGPL, and unless they got consent from _every_ VLC contributor or the terms and conditions changed dramatically the last couple of months they can't distribute it on the iOS App Store. Sorry, but you picked the wrong license if that was something you wanted to do.

    • Huh, I was curious what the initial issue was. Was it licensing? Because I thought it was due to duplicate functionality in iOS.
      • by Goaway (82658)

        One of the VLC devs requested to have it removed because of licensing.

      • It was one of the VLC developers that complained about how the GPL and iOS TOS were incompatible and ordered it to be taken down.

        Basically, sour grapes.

        • Re:3 2 1 Takedown (Score:4, Insightful)

          by kthreadd (1558445) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @05:17PM (#44321925)

          Either that, or Apple could stop abusing its users.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by BasilBrush (643681)

            It's not Apple doing the abusing. It's the GPL that is incompatible with the App Store. There's no Apple rule that stops GPL software appearing on the App Store.

            The only reason users of the iPhone haven't had VLC for all this time is the GPL and the decision by it's developers to remove it. It's not as a result of anything Apple has done.

            It's good to see an outbreak of common sense, and the use of a non-GPL license this time round.

            • Re:3 2 1 Takedown (Score:5, Informative)

              by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @05:44PM (#44322169) Homepage

              > It's not Apple doing the abusing. It's the GPL that is incompatible with the App Store.

              The GPL predates the App Store by about 20 years. If Apple decided to create terms for it's store that are incompatible with a 20 year old license then that is on Apple.

              It's their decision to be jackasses.

              The rest of us should not bow and scrape and grovel just because Apple has decided it can abuse the rest of us at will.

          • by jbolden (176878)

            Apple is the distributor for the app store. Distributors have rather substantial obligations under the GPL.

        • Basically, sour grapes.

          Yeah, some people just get all uppity about what you do with the things they created :(

    • This is probably where the "rewritten" part comes in. I would assume they either got consent or rewrote the parts that they didn't have consent for.

      • by kthreadd (1558445)

        The UI layer is MPL, but the actual guts of the app is libVLC which is not rewritten and licensed under LGPL. So, unless they rewrote that and I missed it I don't see how they can be in the clear.

        • The UI layer is MPL, but the actual guts of the app is libVLC which is not rewritten and licensed under LGPL. So, unless they rewrote that and I missed it I don't see how they can be in the clear.

          They are in the clear as long as none of the copyright holders complains to Apple and demands that the app is removed. And once one of the copyright holders complains, it doesn't matter whether the app store is compatible with GPL or not, because Apple will remove it when asked to do so.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Well yes the iOS front-end perhaps, but unless they also rewrote the whole decoding backend that they have to link to that part will still be under the LGPL.

        • Perhaps they did the sensible thing, and link to the built in video framework for things that it supports. That way they only have to provide for those video formats that are unsupported by Core Video.

    • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @05:16PM (#44321911)

      how long before HBO asks apple to take it down?

      • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @05:52PM (#44322227)

        how long before HBO asks apple to take it down?

        The irony is that VLC was pulled from the iTunes store last time not by evil Sith lord apprentices at Apple, not at the behest of a evil DRM purveyor, nor was it pulled due to threats by the RIAA or MPAA, it was removed at the insistence of a VLC developer because he felt that the GNU general public license conflicted with the iTunes App Store license. Apple was apparently not bothered by this until this guy raised a stink about perceived GPL violations, so just this once the evil corporate weasels seem to be blameless. Perhaps this sorry saga also explains the license changes?

        • Apple was apparently not bothered by this until this guy raised a stink about perceived GPL violations.

          I think another way to look at it that Apple doesn't check on the licensing of any code that is submitted. It assumes that all code submitted falls under a permissible license. When someone objected, they removed the app.

        • The irony is that VLC was pulled from the iTunes store last time not by evil Sith lord apprentices at Apple, not at the behest of a evil DRM purveyor, nor was it pulled due to threats by the RIAA or MPAA, it was removed at the insistence of a VLC developer

          I believe Joe_Dragon was referring to this recent Slashdot story, where a studio sharing a parent company with an MPAA member submitted a mistaken robo-DMCA notice to Google: HBO Asks Google To Take Down "Infringing" VLC Media Player [slashdot.org]

        • so just this once the evil corporate weasels seem to be blameless.

          Not even slightly blameless. The evil coprorate weasles constructed GPL incompatible rules in the first place.

          For some reason whenever anyone else points this out you get a storm of protest about how it's their right to be evil corporate weasles. It certainly is their tight, but they're still evil corporate weasles.

    • Exciting news? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Arker (91948) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @05:22PM (#44321955) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, this doesnt seem like exciting news to me at all. Dual-licensing it to get it in the app store is a failure, not a victory. If the app store isnt compatible with GPL software, then the app store shouldnt be getting access to GPL software. Dual-licensing to work around Apples error seems actively counterproductive to me.
      • Yeah, this doesnt seem like exciting news to me at all. Dual-licensing it to get it in the app store is a failure, not a victory. If the app store isnt compatible with GPL software, then the app store shouldnt be getting access to GPL software. Dual-licensing to work around Apples error seems actively counterproductive to me.

        The question is not whether the app store is compatible with GPL software. The question is whether a copyright holder asks Apple to remove the software. It's a DMCA notice, and when Apple gets a DMCA notice, they take it down. The strange thing is that on Slashdot a DMCA takedown notice is considered a dick move - unless it is about GPL licensed software taken down from the app store.

        • by fnj (64210)

          The question is not whether the app store is compatible with GPL software. The question is whether a copyright holder asks Apple to remove the software. It's a DMCA notice, and when Apple gets a DMCA notice, they take it down.

          Dear god, how did the world survive before DMCA? Oh wait, copyrights were enforced via due process rather than draconian excess. How will the world survive after DMCA is blown away and sent back to hell where it came from? I'm confident the answer is "very nicely; a lot better than now

      • Yeah, this doesnt seem like exciting news to me at all. Dual-licensing it to get it in the app store is a failure, not a victory. If the app store isnt compatible with GPL software, then the app store shouldnt be getting access to GPL software. Dual-licensing to work around Apples error seems actively counterproductive to me.

        Problem is you've got it backwards. The problem wasn't from the point of view of Apple's license... it was from the GPL end. It was a VLC developer that requested it be removed.

        There is lots of GPL licensed software on the iOS App Store - Apple doesn't care at all.

        Now if you believe the GPL is incompatible with Apple's licenses AND if you think somehow that is Apple's problem... well, then, Ballmer had a point when he referred to the GPL as a "cancer".

        • by kthreadd (1558445)

          Apple doesn't care, but anyone who have contributed to them that cares can request that they are pulled since they are distributed against the conditions stipulated in the GPL.

          • anyone who have contributed to them that cares can request that they are pulled since they are distributed against the conditions stipulated in the GPL.

            The reason Apple listens is not complaints about the GPL, but because they are partly the copyright holder. Apple doesn't care about the GPL; they do care about copyrighted work being distributed without permission.

            • by kthreadd (1558445)

              You have permission as long as you follow the terms stipulated in the GPL. But it's true that Apple doesn't have to care about that, they can kick your app out for any other reason if they want to.

              • You have permission as long as you follow the terms stipulated in the GPL.

                Technically according to the contract, yes you do.

                However all Apple sees is an original copyright holder issuing a complaint. It's not Apple's job to interpret a contract, it's Apple's job to take down something if a valid copyright holder asks them to.

                • by Arker (91948)

                  "Technically according to the contract, yes you do."

                  There is no contract. It's a license, a one-sided grant, not a two-party agreement.

                • However all Apple sees is an original copyright holder issuing a complaint.

                  If the developer who uploaded the app to the App Store believed that the app was properly using the complaining contributor's code under the GNU General Public License, the uploader could have filed a counter-notification. But it turns out that Apple's terms conflict with the Installation Information requirement of the GPL.

              • by jrumney (197329)

                You have permission as long as you follow the terms stipulated in the GPL. But it's true that Apple doesn't have to care about that,

                They do have to care about that, because they are the ones doing the distributing and imposing the additional restrictions that violate the GPL.

                • by tlhIngan (30335)

                  They do have to care about that, because they are the ones doing the distributing and imposing the additional restrictions that violate the GPL.

                  WHAT restrictions?

                  That's the thing - VLC is/was (L)GPLv2.

                  The source code to VLC for iOS was always available, which I guess could technically violate the GPL since it's not Apple distributing the code (unless the developer embedded it in the .ipa file...). But that's it, really.

                  If you say you can't compile the source and use it on the device - well, $99 says you can

                  • by jrumney (197329)

                    WHAT restrictions?

                    Just one example (as I can't be bothered going and reading through the 80 odd pages of legalese that you have to agree to before you use the app store); the additional restriction that you may only deploy any application that you download from the app store on a maximum of 5 devices.

        • by Arker (91948)

          "It was a VLC developer that requested it be removed."

          Correct. Because it was being distributed in violation of copyright law. Best I can tell, that is still the case.

          "There is lots of GPL licensed software on the iOS App Store - Apple doesn't care at all."

          Of course they don't, they have never cared about copyright (as long as it's someone elses copyright.) And the availability of GPL software in the App Store is to their advantage - it adds value to their product without costing them anything. I am sure th

      • This. This is a loss for FLOSS.

        And how is this not still a GPLv2 violation?

        http://www.fsf.org/blogs/licensing/more-about-the-app-store-gpl-enforcement [fsf.org]

      • by dfghjk (711126)

        If it's dual-licensed it's not GPL software, the owners of the copyright can do as they wish. What do GPL advocates say? Oh yeah...if you don't like it, write your own.

        "Actively counterproductive" implies that you know what the definition of "productive" is in the authors' minds. Clearly you don't.

    • by naasking (94116)

      No, LGPL libraries can be distributed in commercial software, and only changes to the library itself, if any, need be open sourced under the LGPL. They don't need permission from anyone to distribute it.

  • Sony will come after them for copyright infringement.

  • Bi-Licensed? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Luthair (847766) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @05:15PM (#44321897)
    It's dual licensed you insensitive clod!
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @05:43PM (#44322157) Homepage

    This was news to me, and every news article just vaguely mentions it without providing details. For those unfamiliar, here is an article by the Free Software Foundation explaining the incompatibility. [fsf.org] and here is another article which represents a more nuanced position [tuaw.com].

    • You assumed they weren't wildly incompatible!?

    • by kqs (1038910)

      Huh; I had heard about the "incompatibility" but I didn't know exactly what it was. Thanks for the link.

      It's ironic that a group of people who often hate copyrights and patents will simultaneously cling to a particularly strict interpretation of a App Store/GPL license interaction. I'm not saying the interpretation is wrong, but it;s unclear enough that neither side would want the court battle needed to settle it.

      This definitely sounds like a "cut off the nose to spite the face" situation to me.

      • by Arker (91948) on Friday July 19, 2013 @12:12AM (#44324481) Homepage Journal

        Here's the thing: for most of us, if the only way to assert our rights involves hiring attorneys for what could easily be a protracted court case, then we have been effectively stripped of our rights.

        Apple's contract, on its face, clearly and plainly requires us to agree to onerous conditions which, on their face, render Apple incapable of qualifying for the GPL. Apple has absolutely zero interest in changing that in any way and has made that very clear. That is their right.

        Using GPL software to entice people into their "system," however, is not their right. Not morally, and not legally. It's a privilege extended only to those willing to comply with the incredibly reasonable, and extraordinarily specific, terms of the GPL. Given that Apple has made it clear they have no interest or intention whatsoever of allowing their customers the essential freedoms the GPL was built to preserve, why on earth would anyone expect them to be allowed to use the code?

        Come on.

  • by MMC Monster (602931) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @06:09PM (#44322389)

    Don't particularly care about the licensing issues.

    My question is whether it will allow me to stream from my home system, or will I have to upload every video file or use Dropbox or some other kludge.

    • by jcupitt65 (68879)

      From the linked article:

      Furthermore, in addition to the original feature set, VideoLAN has added more ways to synchronize media (upload over Wi-Fi, native Dropbox integration, support for third-party apps through the Share dialog, and via Web download), support for network streams, video filters, passcode lock, background audio playback, and playback speed manipulation. There is also support for subtitles (including Closed Captions and complex SSA), native support for multiple audio tracks, and playback o

  • to hell with ios. they should make vlc for android and watch it become the most
    downloaded app on the play store. i don't think play store will have a problem with
    the gpl.

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