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

Yuval Levy vlc07 at sfina.com
Wed Nov 3 13:22:40 CET 2010

hey guys (no one targeted particularly),

Why don't you all wait for Brett to catch up and give an answer here, instead 
of bickering internally based on (mis)interpretation?

You all want the best for VLC, you are all good, you are just misunderstanding 
each other at the moment.  In the heat of the moment we tend to make 
statements that we may regret later on.

I find good things in the arguments of every single one of you, but most of you 
do a good job at hiding them under nasty statements.  And I think it is too 
early for many of these things.

Focus on the ball:  a discussion with Brett of the FSF has been initiated.  
It's Q&A time with regard to that.  Stick to it until you reach a *common* 
understanding of whether the App Store infringes on the VLC license.

After you are all on the same page regarding the potential infringement, start 
talking solution.  In talking solution, don't look back.  Don't look at what 
happened and who did what.  Look forward.  Set yourself the goal of re-
uniting, lay out the possible alternatives, discuss their merits without 
accusing anybody of anything.  Actually brain-storm alternatives, it is likely 
that there are many more than you can imagine at the moment.  Determine the 
most desirable alternative and go with it.

I'm reading the posts to this subject that arrived overnight.  I'm on the 
East-Coast.  I guess Brett is on the West-Coast, so he has another 2-3 hours 
just to wake up and another 1-2 hours to get to his office.

This is not an overnight process.  Brace for long discussions and an even 
longer healing process.  But it is worth it.  At the end of the process VLC 
will come out stronger and better, I am sure.  And each and every one of you 

Now a few personal opinions:

1.  BSD/Public domain would be an ideal world.  But the ideal world does not 
exist.  This is why I am happy that there is a healthy political tension 
between proprietary and copyleft and I am thankful to the FSF for its 
existence and its role in the software-political landscape.  To imagine how 
the world would be with only BSD/PD, think of that:  much of what is under the 
trunk of OSX or iOS is BSD-derived.  Apple does give *some* things back, but 
it does so in a way to retain strategic control.  If you're printing on Linux, 
you're likely using Apple BSD licensed software.  Other companies go even 
further and manage (or think to manage) to retain strategic control while 
GPLing their software.  The dual-licensing model, as they call it in business.  
Dual-licensing can also be used for good - think of it when looking at 
alternatives how to move forward in the future.

2.  App Stores of all sorts and on all platforms are a nuisance for me.  But 
this is an inevitable development and let's face it:  the repositories of 
distributions such as Debian and Red Hat are the precursors of "app stores".  
Now that business has found a way to monetize such stores, they won't go away.  
The Free vs. Proprietary debate is just moving to another stage.  VLC will 
need a "stores strategy" (not only for Apple - Amazon is launching; many 
mobile operators have plans; I predict that we'll see Wal*Mart, Carrfour, 
McDonalds and Starbucks all going into the arena at some point or another).

3.  Last but not least:  VLC is what it is and got where it got because of its 
great developers (thank you guys) and the underlying community contract - 
legal and moral values that go beyond what can be described in a boring 
licensing text.  Think of this, and what you have in common, rather than on 
what generates conflicts at the moment.  Be inspired and you'll stay at the 

Be patient.  Let Brett get back to answer you, and keep the focus on answering 
the question:  does the App Store breach on the GPLv2?

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