Thursday, September 8, 2011

fairplay drm and 5 device restrictions != 'free as in speech'

So Apple app store restrictions seems to have won out (vlc)

'Free software' developers who keep buying Apple, need to square this with whether, they truly believe in 'free redistribution', 'sharealike' and 'source availability requirements'

Putting conditions like 'you can only install this app on 5 devices', seems to raise no issue with some developers, who are only too happy to wear a badge saying 'free software'

Extract from a user comments (link below) seems prophetic
Apple users are the losers here. Instead of complaining to Apple, the source of the problem, a lot of you clueless wonders want to change VLC, or try to make out that GPL should be banned.

If you need a refresher on the spirit of sharing software, then have quick read of the bullet points in the Debian social contract at

Listing points (1) free redistribution, (2) source code, and (3) derived works

App stores (as Apple defines them) prevent free redistribution, and wrap drm around the app. Both of these in my opinion are against the spirit of what you just read.

Another comment (link provided below) seems to get to the root of the issue:

The legal problem here is that there's no way to distribute an App on the App Store without the FairPlay DRM (even if that App is free and open source).

The licence that VLC was originally released under (GPL) requires that anyone distributing the App not impose any restrictions on the further distribution of that software.

If I download VLC for Windows, I can send the installer to a friend and they can pass it on to their friends etc.

That's not possible with iOS Apps. If I download it from Apple App Store, my copy will only work with my iTunes Store account.

Links and Further Reading:

I have no problem with the LGPL3 or LGPL as licenses, both are endorsed and in general use. Plenty of software in Debian is LGPL3.

What I do object to is the influence of proprietary software companies (and their supporters) in weakening of the licensing, of an established 'free software' project.

If you cannot see the dangers in this, then it is really because you do not understand the argument, or is it simply inconvenient?

About the comments I have linked to: Neither comments are my own, and yes I have cherry picked comments in support of the arguments I make in this article.

If you are the original author of either of those two comments, then please use the contact link on my blogger profile so that I may correctly attribute them in my post.

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