[vlc-devel] FSF position on GPLv2 & current App Store terms

Pierre Ynard linkfanel at yahoo.fr
Wed Nov 3 05:59:06 CET 2010

> > And remember: the paragraph I quoted earlier makes clear that Apple
> > *only* allows you to do the activities in the list of Usage Rules.
> NO. The terms does not say "do the activities", but "use of Products",
> so distributing and modification are out of scope. And they are in
> Usage Rules.

Despite that fact, it seems to me that some sections of the Usage Rules
do address copying, if not distribution. So is it possible to argue that
Apple are shooting themselves in the foot and that since they use the
wording "you shall use Products in compliance with the applicable usage
rules", these sections are void because you are not required to follow
the Usage Rules to copy or distribute the products, but only to use

Sections (ii) and (v) address "syncing". Sections (iii) and (iv) address
storing, which implicitely affects syncing, copying and/or distribution.
Now, I've never owned an iTunes-authorized device. But it seems to me
that "syncing" *is* copying, and even distributing when syncing to
another person's device, although I don't know the modalities of that.
However, people have argued that syncing was neither distributing,
nor even copying. If my point stands, then this puts a restriction on
copying, which is forbidden by the GPL.

However, you could say that (ii), (iii) and (iv) are moot because
they can be easily by-passed by using multiple accounts. I don't use
iTunes-authorized devices so I don't understand what practical problems
(v) causes. Does the fact that the issue is moot voids the would-be
restriction and violation of the GPL?

> > Section 6 of GPLv2 says:
> > 
> >         Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on
> >         the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license
> >         from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the
> >         Program subject to these terms and conditions. You may not
> >         impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise
> >         of the rights granted herein.
> Ok, now, I don't understand.
> Do those "rights" include running (use) of the product or not?

Does the word "herein" cover all the license, including section 0, or
does it only cover section 6? If section 0 is covered, does the saying
"The act of running the Program is not restricted" counts as granting
unrestricted rights, even after "Activities other than copying,
distribution and modification are not covered by this License" ? People
have argued that both questions could be answered as "no".

On a personal note, I believe that the AppStore terms and conditions
are clearly against the spirit of the GPL. There should be no questions
about whether the GPL is a valid EULA, no references to never-ending
additional rules and licenses, no limitations on the number of
copies which may be moot or not... Apple is simply not trying hard
enough to comply with free software licenses, and yet has no concern
with accepting them in the AppStore, despite their tight control on
acceptance over other issues. So I totally condone one's action against
that, and I wonder why this mailing list sounds like "how can we
interpret the GPL so that we can have VLC on iPhone?" so more often than
like "what should we do to get Apple to respect our free software?"

Pierre Ynard
"Une âme dans un corps, c'est comme un dessin sur une feuille de papier."

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