01.11.11

Gemini version available ♊︎

VLC Saga Shows Danger of Apple’s Binary Wall

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GPL at 3:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Co-authored with G. Forbes

E-sign

Summary: Developers can learn how Apple harms software producers, by acting as a draconian gateway that separates users from producers

MIDDLEMEN are prevalent in the world of copyrighted video and audio, but what about software? Apple is trying to do to hackers and organised businesses that sell software or services exactly the type of thing media conglomerates do to creative artists and so-called ‘pirates’. Should we step aside and allow this to happen? It’s no longer just the mobile platform of Apple that does this; Microsoft too has similar plans.

The VLC story was mentioned here earlier as the old GPL/VLC saga carries on (Apple has contested the GNU GPL).

The news of Apple’s banning of VLC media player from its “App” Store has produced a large amount of response (Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols’ response is noteworthy). A large majority of it is predictable, trying to paint the GPL, R. Denis-Courmont, and practically anyone but Apple as the problem here. Jason Perlow is known for his frequent hostility towards the FSF and he previously wrote on the subject of the FSF’s relationship with the Apple App Store (or others). With regards to the VLC removal, he pushed an argument that the GPL’s complexity is what is at fault here. He supposedly explains “[h]ow to avoid public GPL floggings on Apple’s App Store”:

It is often said that no good deed goes unpunished. Unfortunately even with the best of intents, particularly as it relates to releasing Open Source Software, it is possible to run far afield of GPL and FOSS kashruth even if you think you are following the rules to the best of your ability.

It’s humourous to see him describe GPL compliance as some sort of minefield when Apple’s App Store developer agreement is needlessly complex, and apps can be removed at will, such as the censorship target of the day (the Wikileaks app [1, 2, 3]). By contrast, the GPL violation issue here can be put rather simply:

The difference in the two policies was flagged up to Apple by Rémi Denis-Courmont, one of the original developers of VLC. The GNU license would allow Apple to distribute the iOS version of VLC, but not to apply DRM to it; as has been the case with previous GNU-licensed apps, Apple has chosen to pull it from the App Store rather than amend their DRM policy.

See this article too:

VLC was a surprise addition to the App Store back in September, but one which iPad and iPhone users quickly came to appreciate. Now the multi-format media player has been yanked from the store, the result of incompatibilities with Apple’s App Store DRM policies and the terms of the GNU General Public License on which VLC is based.

Other articles ignore this plain fact and instead resort to idle speculation. One article even attempted to suggest that Denis-Courmont was influenced by his occupation at Nokia:

Rather, it’s a direct result of one man’s misguided crusade… a man who, (perhaps) coincidentally, is an employee of Nokia, one of Apple’s competitors in the mobile space.

Of course, the flaws with the assumption are numerous. VLC is still available for Android, an operating system which Nokia doesn’t utilize but many of its competitors do. Furthermore, VLC has been ported to other proprietary operating systems including OS X. Of course, if Apple amended its App Store policy to allow GPL software, then Denis-Courmont would not have a reason to protest the inclusion of VLC.

Of course, VLC isn’t the only software under the GPL which has had conflicts the restrictive App Store policy:

Before I give a status update on the iPhone issue, let’s get a refresher course on why this project exists in the first place. For years, Windows and Mac users have completely ignored their Linux gaming brethren. Linux users have spent countless hours trying to get the official Ventrilo program working under Linux with various levels of success. If the users of Ventrilo had decided to care in the slightest about cross-platform voice communications programs, they would have switched to Mumble (BSD licensed)… or even Teamspeak (which has Linux support, even if it is crappy).

Anyhow, Luigi Auriemma wrote a GPL implementation of the the Ventrilo call-home and encryption algorithm which is required for any implementation of the Ventrilo protocol. That code was the basis for the beginning of Spux (which, by necessity was GPL) by Michael Sierks and Cris Favero, which helped spawn the development of our little project here. Even if Luigi’s code hadn’t been GPL, we would have licensed our app as GPL anyway… but either way, we’re obligated to use the same license for our work.

For the most part, Pro-Apple Web sites mostly refrain from criticising Apple. VLC developers on the other hand explain this situation as follows: “First, even I do not know for certain why Apple removed VLC, and Apple will probably never state the truth.

“Second, Apple has already removed VLC from the “old” Mac Store for computers… already about 4 years ago, at a time when VLC was one of the most popular applications, and I am yet to learn the reasons why.

“Third, Apple received my copyright notification more than 2 months before they pulled the application. This was not expedited, as the US copyright law would require. As such, it seems dubious that my well-publicized notification from last october is the root cause of the removal. It is nevertheless the reason why I was learnt directly from Apple that VLC was removed.

“Last, Apple had the power and plenty of time (2 months) to adjust and clarifiy the terms of the App Store. Indeed, said terms were modified several times since then…”

Meanwhile it turns out that “Pirate Bay Founder Says Apple “Becoming Microsoft” with Mac App Store,” to echo the headline of another pro-Apple Web site:

The million people who downloaded Apple’s Mac Store yesterday are turning themselves into PCs, says Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde.

“Apple is going on the path to control computer use,” he told Forbes via e-mail, adding that Steve Jobs’ company is “forcing you to use their App Store to get programs.”

Whether you think the Mac App store makes Apple more like Microsoft or not, the confusion generated by the first iteration of the store – our post on what happens when you try to install apps you already have reads like something out of a Windows joke book – is definitely un-Apple like.

Sunde, who is facing jail time and a $700,000 fine after unsuccessfully fighting charges of encouraging copyright infringement by helping set up Pirate Bay, reportedly hit “delete” when a software update automatically installed the App Store on his Mac.

Apple is increasingly being associated with unjust control. Developers and users alike should pay attention to these attitudinal issues.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Proprietary Software is Pollution

    "My daughter asked me about why are we throwing away some bits of technology," Dr. Andy Farnell says. "This is my attempt to put into words for "ordinary" people what I tried to explain to a 6 year old."



  2. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XV — Cover-Up and Defamation

    Defamation of one’s victims might be another offence to add to the long list of offences committed by Microsoft’s Chief Architect of GitHub Copilot, Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley; attempting to discredit the police report is a new low and can get Mr. Graveley even deeper in trouble (Microsoft protecting him only makes matters worse)



  3. [Meme] Alexander Ramsay and Team UPC Inciting Politicians to Break the Law and Violate Constitutions, Based on Misinformation, Fake News, and Deliberate Lies Wrapped up as 'Studies'

    The EPO‘s law-breaking leadership (Benoît Battistelli, António Campinos and their corrupt cronies), helped by liars who don't enjoy diplomatic immunity, are cooperating to undermine courts across the EU, in effect replacing them with EPO puppets who are patent maximalists (Europe’s equivalents of James Rodney Gilstrap and Alan D Albright, a Donald Trump appointee, in the Eastern and Western Districts of Texas, respectively)



  4. Has the Administrative Council Belatedly Realised What Its Job in the European Patent Organisation Really Is?

    The "Mafia" which took over the EPO (the EPO's own workers call it "Mafia") isn't getting its way with a proposal, so it's preventing the states from even voting on it!



  5. [Meme] Team UPC is Celebrating a Pyrrhic Victory

    Pyrrhic victory best describes what's happening at the moment (it’s a lobbying tactic, faking/staging things to help false prophecies be fulfilled, based on hopes and wishes alone), for faking something without bothering to explain the legal basis is going to lead to further escalations and complaints (already impending)



  6. Links 24/1/2022: Scribus 1.5.8 and LXLE Reviewed

    Links for the day



  7. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, January 23, 2022

    IRC logs for Sunday, January 23, 2022



  8. [Meme] Team UPC Congratulating Itself

    The barrage of fake news and misinformation about the UPC deliberately leaves out all the obvious and very important facts; even the EPO‘s António Campinos and Breton (Benoît Battistelli‘s buddy) participated in the lying



  9. Links 24/1/2022: pgBadger 11.7 Released, Catch-up With Patents

    Links for the day



  10. The Demonisation and Stereotyping of Coders Not Working for Big Corporations (or 'The System')

    The war on encrypted communication (or secure communications) carries on despite a lack of evidence that encryption stands in the way of crime investigations (most criminals use none of it)



  11. On the 'Peak Hacker' Series

    Hacker culture, unlike Ludditism, is ultimately a movement for justice, for equality, and for human rights through personal and collective emancipation; Dr. Farnell has done a good job explaining where we stand and his splendid series has come to a close



  12. Links 23/1/2022: First RC of Linux 5.17 and Sway 1.7 Released

    Links for the day



  13. Peak Code — Part III: After Code

    "Surveillance perimeters, smart TVs (Telescreens built to Orwell's original blueprint) watched over our living rooms. Mandatory smart everything kept us 'trustless'. Safe search, safe thoughts. We withdrew. Inside, we went quietly mad."



  14. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, January 22, 2022

    IRC logs for Saturday, January 22, 2022



  15. Links 23/1/2022: MongoDB 5.2, BuddyPress 10.0.0, and GNU Parallel 20220122

    Links for the day



  16. A Parade of Fake News About the UPC Does Not Change the General Consensus or the Simple Facts

    European Patents (EPs) from the EPO are granted in violation of the EPC; Courts are now targeted by António Campinos and the minions he associates with (mostly parasitic litigation firms and monopolists), for they want puppets for “judges” and for invalid patents to be magically rendered “valid” and “enforceable”



  17. Welcome to 2022: Intentional Lies Are 'Benefits' and 'Alternative Facts'

    A crooks-run EPO, together with the patent litigation cabal that we’ve dubbed ‘Team UPC’ (it has nothing to do with science or with innovation), is spreading tons of misinformation; the lies are designed to make the law-breaking seem OK, knowing that Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos are practically above the law, so perjury as well as gross violations of the EPC and constitutions won’t scare them (prosecution as deterrence just isn’t there, which is another inherent problem with the UPC)



  18. From Software Eating the World to the Pentagon Eating All the Software

    “Software is eating the world,” according to Marc Andreessen (co-founder of Netscape), but the Empire Strikes Back (not the movie, the actual empire) by hijacking all code by proxy, via Microsoft, just as it grabbed a lot of the world’s communications via Skype, bypassing the world's many national telecoms; coders need to fight back rather than participate in racist (imperial) shams such as GitHub



  19. Links 22/1/2022: Skrooge 2.27.0 and Ray-Tracing Stuff

    Links for the day



  20. IRC Proceedings: Friday, January 21, 2022

    IRC logs for Friday, January 21, 2022



  21. Peak Code — Part II: Lost Source

    "Debian and Mozilla played along. They were made “Yeoman Freeholders” in return for rewriting their charters to “work closely with the new Ministry in the interests of all stakeholders” – or some-such vacuous spout… because no one remembers… after that it started."



  22. Links 22/1/2022: Ubuntu MATE 21.10 for GPD Pocket 3, MINISFORUM Preloads GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  23. Computer Users Should be Operators, But Instead They're Being Operated by Vendors and Governments

    Computers have been turned into hostile black boxes (unlike Blackbox) that distrust the person who purchased them; moreover, from a legislative point of view, encryption (i.e. computer security) is perceived and treated by governments like a threat instead of something imperative — a necessity for society’s empowerment (privacy is about control and people in positions of unjust power want total and complete control)



  24. Peak Code — Part I: Before the Wars

    Article/series by Dr. Andy Farnell: "in the period between 1960 and 2060 people had mistaken what they called "The Internet" for a communications system, when it had in fact been an Ideal and a Battleground all along - the site of the 100 years info-war."



  25. Links 21/1/2022: RISC-V Development Board and Rust 1.58.1

    Links for the day



  26. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, January 20, 2022

    IRC logs for Thursday, January 20, 2022



  27. Gemini Lets You Control the Presentation Layer to Suit Your Own Needs

    In Gemini (or the Web as seen through Gemini clients such as Kristall) the user comes first; it's not sites/capsules that tell the user how pages are presented/rendered, as they decide only on structural/semantic aspects



  28. The Future of Techrights

    Futures are difficult to predict, but our general vision for the years ahead revolves around more community involvement and less (none or decreased) reliance on third parties, especially monopolistic corporations, mostly because they oppress the population via the network and via electronic devices



  29. [Meme] UPC for CJEU

    When you do illegal things and knowingly break the law to get started with a “legal” system you know it’ll end up in tears… or the CJEU



  30. Links 20/1/2022: 'Pluton' Pushback and Red Hat Satellite 6.10.2

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts