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VLC 1.1 Forced To Drop Shoutcast Due To AOL Anti-OSS Provision 315

The folks over at VideoLAN are in the process of releasing version 1.1.0 of VLC, and one of the major changes is the removal of SHOUTcast, a media-streaming module from AOL-owned Nullsoft. "During the last year, the VLC developers have received several injunctions by e-mail from employees at AOL, asking us to either comply to a license not compatible with free software or remove the SHOUTcast capability in VLC." Within the license is a clause prohibiting the distribution of SHOUTcast with any product whose own license requires that it be "disclosed or distributed in source code form," "licensed for the purpose of making derivative works," or "redistributable at no charge." The license would also force VideoLAN to bundle Nullsoft adware with VLC. Update: 06/22 00:52 GMT by H : The 1.1 release is ready from their site; you can also read up on the release information.
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VLC 1.1 Forced To Drop Shoutcast Due To AOL Anti-OSS Provision

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  • by jlechem ( 613317 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:19PM (#32645420) Homepage Journal
    to say fuck you AOL. Seriously quit being a dick.
    • by nametaken ( 610866 ) * on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:28PM (#32645538)

      It's way too late for AOL. They could hand out free puppy dogs and ice cream for the next year and nobody would ever love them again.

      All 3 remaining shareholders need to get someone to fire everyone in the top 30% of pay recipients there, break the company into smaller ones with independent leadership and f'ing BURY they name AOL forever. RIP.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:32PM (#32645572) Homepage

      And the way to do it? remove shoutcast, make it a module, put the module outside the usa, and make it auto install. call it "aol can go to hell-shuotcast plugin OSS version"

      then say, "we cant control plugin makers, sorry, but our product does not have shoutcast compatability in it."

      Do a video press release flipping the bird the entire time. ALA vietnam and korea war POW film reels.

      • by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:55PM (#32645838) Homepage Journal

        Why is this even an issue? Isn't VLC based in France?

        Were they using the source code from Nullsoft? Couldn't they rewrite the code themselves?

        TFA says:

        We want to emphasise the fact that features like SHOUTcast or icecast browsing are now doable using our new extension framework and you will find user-contributed extensions on []

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by segin ( 883667 )

          Except that they aren't using so much as one line of Nullsoft code. The license agreement in question is a service license, not a software license. It just says that any software that uses the SHOUTcast service cannot be published as source code, or require that it's source code be published, or even allow for people to make copies for gratis.

          In other words, it's saying that GPL'd software can't send commands to their server and get back data. No matter who wrote the damn code.

          After all, the name of the spe

          • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @09:43AM (#32652368) Journal

            The license agreement in question is a service license, not a software license.

            As long as the VLC developers don't use the service, thy cannot be held to any service license.

            As such, even though this is 100% free of Nullsoft code, it conforms to Nullsoft's specifications (as if it didn't, it would be unable to interact with the SHOUTcast Directory server), and is thus supposedly covered under the SHOUTcast Directory Service License, as the software uses the service.

            This of course is a complete and utter overreach on the part of AOL. If such an interpretation of the law had a chance in hell of prevailing in court, Microsoft would have put an end to WINE years ago.

            Just another case of a large corporation abusing copyright law to bully small developers.

      • by grommit ( 97148 )

        ALA vietnam and korea war POW film reels.

        What the heck does the American Library Association have to do with this?

    • "Fuck." was my response too. I listen to shoutcast almost nonstop, because I like their high-quality ACCplus (HE-AAC) streams. Only difference is I use WinAmp instead of VLC, but still it's pretty lousy to force the open-source programmers to downgrade their software.

    • by rsteele19 ( 150541 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:38PM (#32646446) Homepage

      I hate to interrupt a good old-fashioned witch-hunt, but AOL was instrumental in the creation of a little group called the Mozilla Foundation, transferring hardware and intellectual property to them and donating $2 million. []

      So maybe they're not all bad.

      • by Tassach ( 137772 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:52PM (#32646616)
        AOL only bought Netscape for the traffic going to the portal site. Management viewed Netscape's software portfolio as unwanted baggage, so they jettisoned that as early as they could, getting as much goodwill and publicity out of it as possible. $2M is chump change for a company bringing in over a billion in cash every year. The irony is that immediately after taking over, traffic on the portal site dropped by 90-95%. AOL has an amazing talent for buying high-traffic web properties and turning them into low-traffic ones. Having witnessed it first-hand, the disconnect between AOL's management and reality is utterly mind-boggling. /ex-AOL employee
        • by kriston ( 7886 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @09:43PM (#32648476) Homepage Journal

          I agree, yet by the time they bought them, Netscape was a sad shell of company that didn't know it was dead yet. Nobody was going to by that time, and AOL tried to integrate as much of the My Netscape product into the failed My AOL product and actually brought My AOL back from the dead on iPlanet server. Traffic kept dropping over at and they finally put it out of its misery and redirected people to a somewhat revitalized My AOL product with the "Netscape" brand "chrome" on it. After all this, My AOL features were blended with AOL.COM and it survived to some success over the years. Today you go to and it is with a Netscape "skin" running on a combination of Apache and AOLserver servers, the latter being an open-source project since 1999. -another ex-AOL employee.

  • AO-who? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AdmiralXyz ( 1378985 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:20PM (#32645428)
    You'd think those guys would seize any opportunity to stay relevant. It's one thing to shoot yourself in the foot, another to do it when you're inches from death.
  • by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:22PM (#32645442)
    AOL wants to flex what little muscle it has left and try to have an impact on something? KMA AOL, VLC is going to cast your SHOUTcast aside. No one will miss it, and more importantly, no one will miss AOL when it fades off into the sunset.
    • by malloc ( 30902 )

      no one will miss AOL when it fades off into the fires of hell.


    • by spinkham ( 56603 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:44PM (#32645696)

      However, we are providing a way to integrate the "icecast directory" that provides an open source equivalent to SHOUTcast. If you know and like a radio station currently listed on the SHOUTcast directory, please make sure this radio is also available on the icecast directory and let the radio owner know about how AOL treats their content.

      There's a replacement, it's free and user editable. Sounds like the death of SHOUTcast to me.

    • by fm6 ( 162816 )

      I don't see Shoutcast fading anywhere any time soon. There are 30,000 Shoutcast servers, serving half a million listeners during peak hours.

      I mostly use Shoutcast to listen to public radio. I don't see these guys going to a lot of trouble to move away from Shoutcast just so people can use VLC. Even if they did, the main alternatives for them seem to be protocols from RealMedia and Microsoft, both of which have business models just as obnoxious as AOL's.

      There are open source alternatives, of course. But the

  • Wait... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:23PM (#32645454)

    Doesn't VLC already come with DeCSS inside to decode DVD video? Isn't DeCSS "illegal software" ? ... so why does that make this module any different? Can't they just ignore the injunction and keep going?

    Promise I'm not trolling, just confused, or perhaps not understanding the situation.

    • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by localman57 ( 1340533 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:26PM (#32645514)
      Because that would be wrong. Open source software needs to set an example by respecting the licenses under which code is provided. Otherwise, we have no moral authority to go after companies that violate the GPL and demand that they post their code. DVD decoding is a bit different story, because of the fuzzyness of various laws that protect content, and your ability to use it in ways to make it compatible with your system.
      • What code is being provided here? They were rather vague, but it sounded to me like this "license" supposedly covers some sort of web API (the ShoutCAST Radio online directory), not the code used to access it, which was presumably written specifically for VLC under an OSS license.

      • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Informative)

        by slackergod ( 37906 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:55PM (#32645840) Homepage Journal

        Indeed! Just to clarify things for the AC above...

        This is an issue of the authors of some code demanding "adhere to our license or get rid of our code". Which I think everyone can understand the need to honor, if just as a matter of "do unto others, or else".

        DeCSS is a completely different case. The code was written by a Norwegian named Jon Johansen, who not only did the cryptographic research to invent the algorithm in the first place, but wrote the code and then released it to the world. Copyright-wise, the code is legally open-source. And for all countries except the US, the code is legal for use. So for anyone outside the US, there aren't any legal problems with the code. And VLC isn't a US-developed piece of software (though to help Americans, DeCSS is distributed as a separate library under many linux distributions).

        The only thing which taints the algorithm in the US is the "DCMA" law, which outlawed the use of any algorithms which circumvent a "copy protection scheme". The law is so broad that almost *anything* which alters the encoding of data (ROT13, etc) is a copy protection scheme; despite the fact that encrypting a DVD in no way prevents you from making copies of it (copies of encrypted bits play just like the original). So the DVD "CSS" encryption scheme doesn't even stop copying, yet it's able to wrap itself in the legal mantle the DCMA provides. What CSS *does* do is prevent you from playing a DVD unless the software author has paid a license fee to the people who created CSS (NOTE: not the people who creating the video codec it uses, that's just MPEG2). So all it does is stop you from making use of your fair use rights under US copyright law. It's your DVD, you have a right to play it, sell it, etc.

        Now, you might argue that the DCMA, while unjust, is still the law, and Americans should abide by it. And that's a whole can of worms to which Slashdot has devoted many pages of discussion over the last decade. But initially, the effects of the DMCA were broader: worldwide, there were *no* open source DVD players. Period. Because the CSS algorithm wasn't even available in source form anywhere. DVD player authors worldwide had to pay a license just to link in a binary-only library. That is, until Jon Johansen (and cohorts) successfully reverse engineered the algorithm in a completely-legal-for-Norway manner (he was tried in court and found innocent of any wrongdoing). Thus allowing the rest of the world to watch dvds without having to pay money under a racket created by a US-only law.

        And *thats* where DeCSS came from, and why it's nothing like this situation, which (while foot-and-bullet stupid) is perfectly within all internationally recognized rights of the authors.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cpghost ( 719344 )

          And for all countries except the US, the code is legal for use.

          I would be very careful with such broad assertions. Actually, some countries (like Germany and many others) worsened their Copyright laws significantly in the last couple of years, mimicking the US-DMCA w.r.t. anti-circumvention measures. DeCSS could very well be illegal there... but fortunately, they don't seem to care enforcing those anti-circumvention measures all that much (though they still could, if the US government puts enough pressure

        • A slight correction. It's the DMCA, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

        • by Hatta ( 162192 )

          This is an issue of the authors of some code demanding "adhere to our license or get rid of our code". Which I think everyone can understand the need to honor, if just as a matter of "do unto others, or else".

          If this was an issue of getting rid of AOLs code, the VLC team could just reimplement it. This sounds more like a case of AOL asserting that they own copyright over the shoutcast API, and so any non-licensed implementation is infringing. This is a dubious interpretation of the law at best, but it wou

      • by Hatta ( 162192 )

        Open source software needs to set an example by respecting the licenses under which code is provided. Otherwise, we have no moral authority

        You assume that those licenses have moral authority in the first place. It's not clear here that AOL wrote any of the code incorporated in VideoLan, so any moral authority they may assert is questionable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Maybe the RIAA and RIAA-like companys simply raised the white flag on the CSS case, after all you may buy a legit DVD and wants to see then on your PC without need to buy extra (and generaly crappy) "licenced" software to be able to watch then.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by andymadigan ( 792996 )
      DeCSS is only illegal under the DMCA and other "anti-circumvention" laws. Open source has a history of respecting copyrights, but the DMCA is completely different. The DMCA also doesn't exist in most countries, and OSS has no interest init being followed. OSS does have an interest in copyright and copyright does exist in most jurisdictions.
  • by zill ( 1690130 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:25PM (#32645482)
    Wow, I didn't know AOL developed software. I thought they were just a Frisbee manufacturer.

    Speaking of which I really miss getting the free sample Frisbees from them every month. Did they go bankrupt or something?
    • No they didn't. Nullsoft (Which also made Winamp and other software) made shoutcast. AOL bought Nullsoft.

    • I once met a guy who made sculptures out of those things. I don't know what he uses for materials now.

      • by Kugala ( 1083127 )
        He should still have enough left.
      • Drug company pens. They give those things out so freely that even people who don't even go to the doctor seem to have huge stashes of Levitra and Nexium pens.

        My mom works in a doctor's office and she's literally got a drug rep keyboard, mouse, and mouse pad on her computer, along with lord knows how much other stuff (pens, pads, coffee mugs, hats, etc). I swear it's gotten to the point where I wouldn't be surprised if she brought home a 46" LCD TV with a giant Lunesta logo in the corner.

        • by rufus t firefly ( 35399 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:00PM (#32645902) Homepage

          And I'm sure that their overpriced drugs and the people who are being gouged for them are paying for all of that crapola. I'd rather they turn around and subsidize the cost for some of their lower income customers, but we all know *that* isn't about to happen.

          I grew up with industry schwag as well, but that industry was far better off when it couldn't direct market to patients. Turns doctors into mere "prescribers".

          Pharma is out of control in the US -- and they're more bloated and less "innovative" than ever.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      i thought they made coasters
  • Magnusson-Moss (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wiredlogic ( 135348 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:25PM (#32645486)

    Reverse engineering and design for interoperability is legal in the US. Unless there is an active patent or AOL's code is incorporated into VLC they don't have a leg to stand on and are just engaging in bully tactics. Considering that this is AOL I'm not surprised that they're likely to shift to the SCO business model and squeeze all they can from the fumes of their diminished empire.

  • by bzzfzz ( 1542813 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:25PM (#32645494)
    From TFA:

    "When sold or distributed to End Users, the Integrated Product shall not [...] (c) incorporate any Publically Available Software, in whole or in part, in a manner that may subject SHOUTcast Radio or the SHOUTcast Radio Materials, in whole or in part, to all or part of the license obligations of any Publically Available Software. As used herein, the term "Publicly Available Software" means any software that contains, or is derived in any manner (in whole or in part) from, any software that is distributed as free software, open source software or similar licensing or distribution models; and that requires as a condition of use, modification or distribution that such software or other software incorporated into, derived from or distributed with such software: (1) be disclosed or distributed in source code form; (2) be licensed for the purpose of making derivative works; or (3) be redistributable at no charge." (Emphasis mine)

    This is a standard provision that is part of any license agreement for commercial software, and all it says is that you can't distribute the software in a way that makes it subject to the GFDL or some other Free license.

    I'm not sure what the real reason is, but the OSS provision isn't it.

  • SHOUTcast? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by flabordec ( 984984 )
    Seriously, is anyone using this? With the horrible memories I have of AOL I would not use anything they made and I would think most people feel similarly.
    • Re: iPhone (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fistfullast33l ( 819270 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:32PM (#32645576) Homepage Journal

      As an iPhone developer, I can tell you the majority of streaming radio apps on mobile phones are listening to Shoutcast servers. That's where most of the money lies for AOL/Nullsoft in Shoutcast. The protocol is very simple and similar to HTTP so the iPhone OS supports it (sort of) out of the box, and some of the more advanced features (like in-stream song names) can be taken advantage of by manipulating the HTTP headers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      Yes Shoutcast and icecast stations are all over. Lots of awesome radio is on shoutcast and icecast stations.

      Most have moved to icecast, but some are running on really out of date shoutcast servers.

      What is the suckiest is the WNA and RM streams... only real idiots use those for streaming radio.

  • XBMC? (Score:3, Funny)

    by CoffeeDog ( 1774202 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:29PM (#32645540)
    DISCLAIMER: If you are an employee of AOL you are not authorized to read the following comment.

    How does XBMC get away with SHOUTcast support then? Or should I be asking this question?
    • XBMC as it started out was a project that for the vast majority of it's users was illegal to possess a compiled copy of it. With the release (and shifting of main focus to) of the non-Xbox versions that's changed, but somehow I really doubt that XBMC cares too much what AOL thinks. They're liable to just declare the project closed source and keep having unexplained "leaks" of the code.

  • That (Score:5, Funny)

    by jamesyouwish ( 1738816 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:29PM (#32645542)
    really whips the llama's ass
  • by SgtChaireBourne ( 457691 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:31PM (#32645566) Homepage

    SHOUTcast is just a bad copy of icecast []. Keep using icecast [] for your audio and video streaming and do not accept lesser, closed source imitations.

    I do hope that the specific VLC developers involved with the shoutcast fiasco get the drubbing they deserve, if for no other reason than as an example for others and as payment for the trouble they've caused the rest of the project. It's 2010, closed source does not belong on the net and FOSS developers have no business undercutting FOSS projects.

    • by mmkkbb ( 816035 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:41PM (#32645664) Homepage Journal

      Shoutcast predates icecast. And, in any case, this appears to have been a Shoutcast directory client, not a media server.

    • How is Shoutcast a copy of Icecast, when Shoutcast came first? Once upon a time Nullsoft wasn't owned by AOL, and produced something called Winamp...
    • It's 2010, closed source does not belong on the net

      Well then you better get off the train because plenty of the net will never stop using closed source software.

  • No they didn't. AOL employees do not have the power to issue injunctions. They may have received some sort of "cease and desist" letters, but those have no force of law. The VLC developers need to consult an attorney. Are they using AOL-copyrighted code? If so, why?

  • You didn't get 'several email injunctions from AOL employees'. A judge puts an injunction into place. AOL asked you to stop. It may have lead to an injunction at some point had you told them to piss off, but you complied, and thats where it ended.

    The 'license issue' you quoted also basically says 'if your software license imposes restrictions that are anti-closed source software, then we don't want to play with you.' This is pretty much identical to the point of GPL but in the other direction. Same stu

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kriston ( 7886 )

      The letters all refer to something called the "Shoutcast Radio." This is the free, yet proprietary, directory of people using Shoutcast servers to serve audio data. I don't see anything that talks about the protocol itself, which is open and is used to serve audio to tens of millions of iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch users via apps like iheartradio, CBS Radio, and many others.

      This isn't such a big deal but I sure hope the VLC people don't think it means they should remove the Shoutcast streaming protocol, which i

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @04:44PM (#32645704)
    Make it a separately installed "plug-in". What's the problem? Do the same with any other module of questionable legality.
  • by maliqua ( 1316471 )
    I remember something about junk mail in the form of floppy's and CD's but its all so blurry. AOL used to sell something didn't they? well it escapes me. At least they found a way to make themselves even less relevant. I almost thought it couldn't be done
  • I have an older version of VLC already installed. My first thought was "keep the old version so not to give up a function". Then I realized that I never listen to shoutcast, and likely never will. So why bother to even worry about it? If AOL wants to further isolate themselves from the rest of the community because of concern that someone might be spared from some of their obnoxious ads, by all means let them. Too bad that no one who actually understands the issue will be there the day that AOL execs sit ar
  • AOL still exists.
  • It seems that AOL has laid out a brilliant path for every internet company: To be successful, just do the opposite of every single thing AOL does.

  • Burn in hell (Score:5, Interesting)

    by soundguy ( 415780 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:03PM (#32645940) Homepage

    I've operated a media distribution system (mostly video ppv) for about a decade. About 7 years ago, I ended up blocking the AOL browser completely. It was a worthless piece of shit that caused 50% of our customer service issues. Coupled with their idiotic "no refresh for 30 days" DNS servers (which means any time you moved a website to a new IP, it "vanished" for a month for all AOLosers) and their proxy servers that made tracking large-scale credit card fraud extremely difficult, it literally cost us money to even have AOLosers in the customer base. I was in the process of compiling a list of AOL IP ranges and had plans to block them completely when they finally rolled over and died in the dial-up market. Almost overnight, they became 99% irrelevant and my life got so much easier, I was able to start taking regular vacations.

    In summation, GO TO HELL, AOL! You're nothing but a festering boil on the ass of the internet and your rotting corpse needs to be dumped into an active volcano.

  • That's hysterical (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Akita24 ( 1080779 )
    Having AOL say "you can't bundle our stuff" is right up there with Real Media saying the same thing. Who the f* cares? I mean really. Good bye, good riddance.
  • Amarok (Score:5, Informative)

    by c_g_hills ( 110430 ) <chaz @ c h a z 6 . c om> on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:17PM (#32646124) Homepage Journal
    Amarok dropped Shoutcast support in version 2.2 (October 2009) because of this.
  • Was VLC incorporating code supplied by AOL under a copyright licence or is AOL trying to overextend copyright to cover any implementation? I did RTFA but I'm none the wiser. Unfortunately, the licence PDF is now a 404 page.
  • by DrEnter ( 600510 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:29PM (#32646328)
    Seriously AOL, are you that determined to drive every last customer away?
  • Hello from SHOUTcast (Score:4, Informative)

    by friskygeek ( 1838700 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @07:17PM (#32647344)
    Hi all. We were disappointed to see VLC's announcement today that they were removing access to the SHOUTcast service in VLC. While the SHOUTcast service is proprietary, SHOUTcast has always supported open source development since its birth in 1999 and we will continue to do so in the future. The SHOUTcast API terms of service allow the SHOUTcast API to be incorporated into open source software applications via SHOUTcast API partner program so long as the terms of such open source software do not subject SHOUTcast Radio or the SHOUTcast service to the open source terms. VLC's comment that the SHOUTcast Toolbar is spyware is not accurate. The SHOUTcast Toolbar is not spyware. The SHOUTcast toolbar may only be downloaded by a user upon their prior consent. We will be reaching out directly to VLC to clear up any confusion that exists about this situation.
    • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @11:00PM (#32648966) Journal

      VLC's comment that the SHOUTcast Toolbar is spyware is not accurate. The SHOUTcast Toolbar is not spyware. The SHOUTcast toolbar may only be downloaded by a user upon their prior consent.

      Where consent is identified by a checkbox buried on next-to-final page in the installer of "partner software" that is ticked by default?

      C'mon, this is 2010. Any bundled browser toolbar is malware (whether it's spyware is debatable) pretty much by definition.

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