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FSF Asks Apple To Comply With the GPL For Clone of GNU Go

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the y'know-fellas-the-license dept.

GNU is Not Unix 482

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The Free Software Foundation has discovered that an application currently distributed in Apple's App Store is a port of GNU Go. This makes it a GPL violation, because Apple controls distribution of all such programs through the iTunes Store Terms of Service, which is incompatible with section 6 of the GPLv2. It's an unusual enforcement action, though, because they don't want Apple to just make the app disappear, they want Apple to grant its users the full freedoms offered by the GPL. Accordingly, they haven't sued or sent any legal threats and are instead in talks with Apple about how they can offer their users the GPLed software legally, which is difficult because it's not possible to grant users all the freedoms they're entitled to and still comply with Apple's restrictive licensing terms."

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482 comments

Fat Chance (5, Insightful)

dward90 (1813520) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352502)

Apple will pull the app from the store LONG before they allow actual open software to slip through their stranglehold on content.

Re:Fat Chance (4, Funny)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352532)

The more they tighten their grip, the more open source software will slip through their fingers.

Re:Fat Chance (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352574)

That's the problem with FOSS. It seems to slip through most everybody's fingers.....

Re:Fat Chance (4, Funny)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352984)

Bertrand Serlet: "Steve, we've analyzed their attack, and there is a weakness. Shall I have your shuttle and our crack legal team standing by?" Steve Jobs: "Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their chances."

Re:Fat Chance (4, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352562)

Very true. FSF should know better to say "Hey, you can't do that ... so why don't you start opening up your distribution practices rather than pull the app in question". They just fingered that app and it will be out in the cold before you can say "Oops!".

Re:Fat Chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352606)

haha, joke's on them. They've already sold the app and are now bound by the terms of the GPL. They're kind of screwed; their only option now is to buy an exemption to the GPL or follow the GPL.

Re:Fat Chance (0, Flamebait)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352632)

haha, joke's on them. They've already sold the app and are now bound by the terms of the GPL. They're kind of screwed; their only option now is to buy an exemption to the GPL or follow the GPL.

They were the "store" but not the "developer". I imagine the developer will need to provide the GPL compliance as Apple is just the reseller.

Re:Fat Chance (4, Informative)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352788)

RTFL. The distributor is the one responsible for complying with the GPL. Or rather, the entity that conveys the binary is responsible, ie Apple.

Re:Fat Chance (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352804)

Well, not exactly. The GPL is a distribution license. Without it, you may not copy the work at all, as per copyright law. That means that everyone in an electronic distribution chain must comply with the GPL, because each one is making a copy. Apple is making a copy of a copyrighted work every time that someone downloads something from the store.

There is almost certainly a clause in the developer agreement saying that you will indemnify Apple against legal costs caused by distributing your app, but this is where it gets interesting. If Apple has distributed something derived from GPL'd code, without complying with the terms of the GPL, then they are liable for copyright infringement (for profit, potential large statutory fine). They could then recoup this cost by suing the developer, but I imagine that the developer probably can't afford the fine and that the amount of bad press it would generate for Apple in the developer community would make it not worth their while.

Re:Fat Chance (2, Interesting)

bondsbw (888959) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353060)

If Apple has distributed something derived from GPL'd code, without complying with the terms of the GPL, then they are liable for copyright infringement

Keep in mind that anyone may opt out of the GPL, and in such case standard copyright laws apply. But only the copyright owners (those listed in AUTHORS) have legal standing to sue over copyright infringement. I doubt Apple would want to go down that route, because it opens them up to being sued, and they probably won't sue in return.

So let's say they opt-in to the GPL. Anyone who purchases the software can then require the source code of the derivative software from Apple, and Apple would then require it from the authors. And it would stop there, to my understanding... the GPL would not apply to anything like the App Store or the iPhone OS software, so it's really just a matter of Apple enforcing its rights in order to comply with ours.

Re:Fat Chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32353176)

Well GPL just doesn't work for commercial use. The end user doesn't care about the source.
If you do care, it's easy to find with google.

The FSF should recognize this.

Re:Fat Chance (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352770)

This sort of “gotcha” crap is the reason I vastly prefer using BSD licensed software.

Re:Fat Chance (4, Insightful)

kabloom (755503) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352814)

This sorta gotcha is why GPL developers prefer the GPL.

Re:Fat Chance (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352930)

Because they are selfish pricks who don't care if an innocent redistributer is caught in the legal cross-fire? Because all that's important is teh c0des!!, amiright? I hope it goes to court and a judge finds the GPL non-enforceable.

People who say the GPL infects nothing has only to look at this example. Turns out corporate paranoia was completely justified.

Re:Fat Chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32353064)

Who is this innocent re-distributor? Apple?? FFS.

Re:Fat Chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32353098)

The most insightful quote on /. that I have read in a while.

Re:Fat Chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352796)

From the article:

Apple is free to distribute our software through the App Store if they wish, but they cannot take advantage of the license's permissions while turning a blind eye to the conditions. If they want to continue distributing this software, they must not prohibit others from doing so through the iTunes Store Terms of Service.

Apple wouldn't want to continue distributing it. It's a complete non-story.

Re:Fat Chance (1, Troll)

dward90 (1813520) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352688)

It would ABSOLUTELY be preferable if Apple actually heeded this request. Slashdot wouldn't know what to do if Apple actually made a decision it agreed with. I simply find that prospect to be pretty unlikely.

Re:Fat Chance (0, Troll)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353164)

Several of the iPad frothing at the mouth haters would either have their heads explode, or they would take their own lives...

Either way it would be a net positive for the world.

'B Ark' For Earth's GNUFreaks? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352626)

Can't we all pitch in and create some sort of 'B Ark' ala Douglas Adams to ship Earth's GNUFreaks to some other planet?

Re:Fat Chance (4, Informative)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352676)

Apple will pull the app from the store LONG before they allow actual open software to slip through their stranglehold on content.

My understanding is that to comply, Apple would just have to remove the clause that says if you create an app with their SDK you can't distribute that same version elsewhere, as that is what conflicts with the GPL. So all they'd have to do is add an exception for GPL apps and it would be of no real detriment to Apple. They probably will not, but they certainly could.

You wouldn't know it from the summary, but mostly, this is an issue with some people taking a GPL app and violating the license and in the process authorizing Apple to redistribute and violate the license as well in the process. It's really no different from someone submitting a closed source app they don't have license to to Apple's app store.

Re:Fat Chance (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352906)

Nope. They'd also have to provide the source through the App store as well. Which I doubt very much that they'd be willing to do, but that is a requirement of the GPL.

Unless I'm missing something that's probably going to be more of an issue.

Re:Fat Chance (4, Insightful)

Thundersnatch (671481) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352994)

They could provide the source code by any means they wished. Why would they have to provide it "through the App store"? Read the license.

Re:Fat Chance (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352960)

it would be of no real detriment to Apple.
Except in the cases where the reason for the rule in the first place happen to apply of course.

Re:Fat Chance (2, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352720)

Apple will pull the app from the store LONG before they allow actual open software to slip through their stranglehold on content.

If you think Apple is doing any of this on principle. Since they're implementing iPhone as the literal textbook example from The Innovator's Solution [amazon.com] , they'd also be close to opening the iPhone since Android is about to walk past them (the book shows that staying proprietary until the product is commoditized leads to the maximum profits).

The timing might not be quite right, but it's close.

what?! no way. (4, Funny)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352504)

What a software license breach and someone doesn't threaten with lawsuits and horse whippings?! what's this world coming to, it almost sounds like people are being reasonable.

Re:what?! no way. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352610)

Geez! You think it might have something to do with the fact that the whole world sucks Jobs' ball bag?
There would already be a class action suit and bloody murder being screamed if you know who did this.

Bunch of fucking hypocrites.
But it is OK because the brought us the iPad. ::pukes::

Re:what?! no way. (4, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352718)

What a software license breach and someone doesn't threaten with lawsuits and horse whippings?!

The FSF almost invariably tries to contact companies and take a non-litigious approach first. Their goal is to promote OSS and they can do that a lot better by contacting companies and convincing them to comply and contribute, rather than costing those companies cash out of pocket and making them scared of OSS in future.

Dumb Summary (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352522)

It's an unusual enforcement action, though, because they don't want Apple to just make the app disappear, they want Apple to grant its users the full freedoms offered by the GPL.

Wow, they want Apple to actually follow the license? Bizarre ... what an unusual request! I don't know who wrote the app but if Apple wants to license crap through its stores, it better do the footwork to make sure that it can license what it is licensing. If Apple can't get the source code to the users and Apple was the one who distributed and re-licensed that software then I'd encourage any user with the app to sue for their right to also have access to the source code. Seems like a pretty straight forward license violation to me.

No Kidding (4, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352752)

Reality:

In most ways, this is a typical enforcement action for the FSF: we want to resolve this situation as amicably as possible. We have not sued Apple, nor have we sent them any legal demand that they remove the programs from the App Store.

Slashdot:

It's an unusual enforcement action, though, because they don't want Apple to just make the app disappear, they want Apple to grant its users the full freedoms offered by the GPL.

Normal for the FSF, but not for anyone else. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32353122)

It's normal for the FSF, but abnormal in the litigation-happy world of copyright law.

Do you think that the RIAA is in the habit of asking nicely? Or the MPAA? Or maybe we should compare this to the bad blood of Viacom v. YouTube?

- I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property

Re:Dumb Summary (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352914)

Wow, Apple expects their developers to actually follow the license terms they set forth for inclusion in their store? Bizarre... what an unusual request I don't know who wrote the app but it seems that they should have done more homework to make sure they could satisfy all the restrictions of the licenses governing the software they were trying to release. Id encourage any developer with an app to sue for their right to distribute code any way they desire without having to abide by silly licenses. Seems like a pretty straight forward misreading of all the rules to me.

Wrong People (1, Interesting)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352530)

Isn't this like going after Wal-Mart if they sell a router from a company that uses GPL code in the firmware for that router company violating the GPL?

Just an attempt for the FSF to get some PR. Ho-hum.

Re:Wrong People (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352550)

No, it's because of Apple's licensing restrictions.

Re:Wrong People (3, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352590)

No, because Apple is the problem. If Wal-Mart didn't let the router company include a source CD with the router, you'd go after Wal-Mart along with the router company. The developers of this app I have little doubt want to comply with the GPL but Apple won't let them, a bit like Wal-Mart prohibiting the inclusion of source code.

Re:Wrong People (5, Interesting)

PipsqueakOnAP133 (761720) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352628)

O RLY?
What's preventing the developers from posting source on their web site like the other GPL apps on the app store?

Re:Wrong People (3, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352746)

Wouldn't actually matter. The author's not the one distributing the app, Apple is the distributor. Therefore Apple requires a distribution license. The GPs debates of angels on pinheads notwithstanding, Wal-mart's situation with the router is not something I can comment upon, beyond pointing out it's not an acceptable analogy. Apple is copying the product and distributing those copies. Morally, legally, and in every other way possible, Apple must abide by the license.

That isn't the violation (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353074)

The problem is that the terms of service that you agree to when you use the app store places restrictions on how you use the application that are in conflict with the GPL: details [slashdot.org] . Thus Apple is violating the terms of service when they distribute the application, in a manner that cannot be resolved externally.

Re:Wrong People (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352700)

So the app maker provides a link to their website (as many thousands of apps on the app store do to have forums/feedback/further info for the app in question) and on that website they have a big link that says "download source code".

They can include all the GPL code they have used, and leave out any Apple code that is not allowed to be released. If it is impossible to separate it out like this, then it wasn't Apple's fault in the first place, it was the developers for using GPL code in a way that would not be allowed by the licence of the GPL itself - they'll just have to pull the app if this is so.

Re:Wrong People (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353086)

Who said this had anything to do with source availability? From TFA "Apple imposes numerous legal restrictions on use and distribution of GNU Go through the iTunes Store Terms of Service, which is forbidden by section 6 of GPLv2."

I believe one problem is that iTunes prohibits redistribution of a downloaded app. I'm sure there are other restrictions that violate the GPL as well.

Re:Wrong People (1)

DavidR1991 (1047748) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352728)

What? Sorry but that is total bollocks.

'Apple won't let them' is sod all to do with anything. It is the developer's responsibility to check for conflicting licences / areas where the licence cannot possible be used, not Apple's responsibility

The only way this is 'Apple won't let them' is because the port is attached to proprietary Apple stuff (in terms of the full source) and the fact Apple's terms disallow modification (what do you want them to say? 'Huh, yeah, sure, durr... buy apps and modify them even if they're not GPL'ed... herp derp derr'. That is not Apple's problem. They didn't develop the application, they didn't breach the licence. The developer did by being completely brain-dead

Re:Wrong People (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352944)

not Apple's responsibility

If its not apples responsibility for what they host on their servers, then isnt it also not the pirate bays (or napster, or imesh, etc..) responsibility for what is hosted on theirs?

Re:Wrong People (1)

DavidR1991 (1047748) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353062)

It is now their responsibility in general, yes (hence why the game has now gone) - but it's not their responsibility to go through every term of their licence and ensure it matches up with the licence of the code you've nabbed.

Obviously should be (and is) the FSF's first port of call - but actually blaming Apple for the inability to enforce the entire licence... that just doesn't make sense. The developer used the licence and happily agreed to Apple's subsequent licensing (which includes "Confirming you hold copyright/ownership" clauses): It's their fault

Re:Wrong People (1)

FrangoAssado (561740) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353146)

That is not Apple's problem. They didn't develop the application, they didn't breach the licence.

The GPL is a distribution license, so it applies to the distributor too. Here is a relevant quote from section 0 of the GPL v2:

Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope.

Most of the following sections specify the terms under which you can modify and distribute the software.

If Apple is distributing the software, they must comply with the license. (The developers may be in breach of the license also, but that does not mean Apple is not.)

Re:Wrong People (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353150)

If someone provides you with bootleg DVDs that say "This is a pirated DVD" on the cover and you sell them from your store, you're going to get in trouble. You might even get into trouble if you can't even tell they are pirated.

I would have assumed "checking the license" was one of the usual steps in approving an app.

Re:Wrong People (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352638)

Only if the company that makes the router is releasing their source; but Wal-Mart is installing their own cryptographically tamper-resistant bootloader that prevents you from loading modified firmware on the router.

That's the thing. Apple is the retailer; but they aren't just the retailer. They are also the ones imposing the restrictions that make the App GPL-violating.

They are talking to both (2, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352678)

From the press release:

The upstream developers for this port are also violating the GPL, and we are discussing this with them too. We are raising the issue with Apple as well since Apple is the one that distributes this software to the public; legally, both parties have the responsibility to comply with the GPL.

They are both responsible, but Apple is the only one that can change their licensing terms to make it legal to release GPL software for the iPhone. Since the FSF would prefer that option over having the application removed from the store, contacting Apple and letting them choose the path forward is the pragmatic and diplomatic thing to do.

I know what I would do. (4, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352548)

If I were Apple, I would just pull the app and call it done. Why bother mucking around with the GPL and the like? Why run the risk of having to deal with demands for access, etc?

Just get rid of the app and make the problem go away.

Re:I know what I would do. (4, Interesting)

Arker (91948) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352730)

If I were Apple, I would just pull the app and call it done.

Although the FSF tends to be far too kind, the fact is copyright law doesnt work that way. They are still on the hook for infringement already committed - or at least could be, if the copyright holders want to pursue it.

Re:I know what I would do. (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352976)

If I publish a book with copyrighted material in it without permission to do so and Barnes and Nobles sells that book, who is accountable for the copyright violation?

Why do you think Apple should be treated any differently?

Re:I know what I would do. (1)

Arker (91948) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353018)

What if you do have permission to do so, under certain conditions, but then Barnes and Nobles who are beyond your control violate those conditions? Hmmm?

Re:I know what I would do. (2, Interesting)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352738)

Considering whoever created it violated the same Apple Developer's Agreement that FSF has issues with, Apple can just pull the App without much legal entanglement.

3.1(e) For the purposes of Schedule 1(if applicable), You represent and warrant that You own or control the necessary rights in order to appoint Apple and Apple Subsidiaries as Your worldwide agent for the delivery of Your Licensed Applications, and that the fulfillment of such appointment by Apple and Apple Subsidiaries shall not violate or infringe the rights of any third party;

3.3.16 If Your Application includes any FOSS, You agree to comply with all applicable FOSS licensing terms. You also agree not to use any FOSS in the development of Your Application in such a way that would cause the non-FOSS portions of the Apple Software to be subject to any FOSS licensing terms or obligations.

Re:I know what I would do. (2, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352844)

Do you really think that they should be able to get away with copyright infringement via a contract that does not involving the rights holder?

Well then I have a contract with John Cantbefound who has been installing software and media on my computer for years. In the contract he specifies that he will not put material that I do not have rights to use onto my computer.

Re:I know what I would do. (4, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352956)

Regardless of what the agreement might say, Apple is still on the hook for infringement. Considering the level of vetting that they give to applications going in and the number that have been blocked due to non-obvious problems, they're not going to be able to plead ignorance.

Re:I know what I would do. (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352776)

If I were Apple, I would just pull the app and call it done. Why bother mucking around with the GPL and the like? Why run the risk of having to deal with demands for access, etc?

That's probably what they will do, but you never know. More apps in the app store means more happy customers and may lead to more iPhone sales. Apple is a pretty OSS savvy company and knows the value of cooperation with the open source community. They also happen to have a lot of OSS geeks working there. It is possible Apple will take the harder, but more conciliatory approach of adding a license clause to exempt GPL software from the no-redistribution clause and in so doing open the way for GPL code to make it's way through the app store. Apple already has mechanisms in place to deal with requests for source for their own applications and they have the source for submitted apps, so it is doable.

Kill switch? (1)

ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352786)

The real question is, will they Kill Switch the app for those who have already downloaded it?

That'd be a woefully ironic way of responding to the FSF's concerns about user's rights. "Oh, sorry, FSF. Just to show you how sorry we are, we'll remotely disable all copies of that app. That way, nobody will be left with a copy of the app that doesn't fully comply with the GPL terms. All better?"

Re:Kill switch? (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353010)

What apps have they ever "kill switched"?

I have apps that due to private api violations can no longer be downloaded from the store but continue to run quite well on my up-to-date touch.

Re:I know what I would do. (5, Informative)

greed (112493) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352810)

Apple's Developer Agreement for the iPhone SDK explicitly specified that your application must comply with open-source license terms.

So if someone puts up a GPL application on the App Store without the source, they're not just in violation of the GPL, they're also in violation of Apple's terms.

From http://adcdownload.apple.com/iphone/iphone_sdk_3.2__final/iphone_sdk_agreement.pdf [apple.com] , "3.3.16 If Your Application includes any FOSS, You agree to comply with all applicable FOSS licensing terms. You also agree not to use any FOSS in the development of Your Application in such a way that would cause the non-FOSS portions of the SDK to be subject to any FOSS licensing terms or obligations."

In part, obviously, this is to keep someone from trying to lever open Apple's code with an FOSS license. But they've written it so that it also protects FOSS users and developers. It reads, to me, a lot like the GPL clause that says, "if you can't follow all these rules, you can't distribute the software."

Re:I know what I would do. (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352888)

Apple is not even the people who violated the GPL-- it's the authors of the App who are distributing it (through Apple's store). Said authors are responsible, although I'm sure the FSF would love to go after Apple's deeper pockets instead.

Apple doesn't give App developers 1099's for the same reason-- Apple isn't selling; they are providing the marketplace infrastructure for the app developers to sell.

They'll work around it. (1)

allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352598)

They'll make the app disappear and to appease the FSF they'll provide a notice about the app. And possibly a link to the source for awhile.

Apple isn't stopping you from sharing the source (3, Interesting)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352634)

Nothing about the app store means that you can't freely share the code and load it on your own devices. Nothing legally stops you from jailbreaking the device, and loading on the source yourself.

However, it seems that the argument is that anything that falls under the GPL in binary form must be redistributed without restriction, regardless of the availability of the source code. I'm not so sure on this. It seems to me that if the source code is available freely, than the license terms are fulfilled, but what do I know, I'm not a lawyer...

Re:Apple isn't stopping you from sharing the sourc (2, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352722)

It seems to me that if the source code is available freely, than the license terms are fulfilled, but what do I know, I'm not a lawyer...

No, no you are not. But this is really something that software developers who plan on reuse should know. From Section 6 of the GPLv2 [gnu.org] :

6. 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. You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third parties to this License.

Is Apple redistributing the Program or a derivative thereof? What's more they're relicensing it with a noncompliant license. I think we got a legitimate problem here ... If Apple wants to redistribute, they must provide a license to the consumer telling them how to obtain the source and notifying the consumer that they are free to copy, distribute or modify said Program (of course by the GPLv2 rules).

Re:Apple isn't stopping you from sharing the sourc (2, Interesting)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352794)

Is Apple redistributing the Program or a derivative thereof? What's more they're relicensing it with a noncompliant license. I think we got a legitimate problem here ... If Apple wants to redistribute, they must provide a license to the consumer telling them how to obtain the source and notifying the consumer that they are free to copy, distribute or modify said Program (of course by the GPLv2 rules).

As an app store developer, I can tell you Apple lets the developer supply the license, and it's embedded in the app store for your product.

Because the developer supplies the license for the app store, this is really the developers issue again.

The terms of service conflict (5, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352858)

The GPLv2 [gnu.org] section 6 states

6. 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. You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third parties to this License.

The iTunes Store Terms of Service [apple.com] section 10b states:

b. Use of Products. You acknowledge that Products (other than the iTunes Plus Products) contain security technology that limits your usage of Products to the following applicable Usage Rules, and, whether or not Products are limited by security technology, you agree to use Products in compliance with the applicable Usage Rules.

Usage Rules
(i) Your use of the Products is conditioned upon your prior acceptance of the terms of this Agreement.
(ii) You shall be authorized to use the Products only for personal, noncommercial use.
(iii) You shall be authorized to use the Products on five Apple-authorized devices at any time, except in the case of Movie Rentals, as described below. ...

Therefore distributing through the iTunes Store adds restrictions on use that are prohibited by the GPL.

Re:The terms of service conflict (1)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352886)

And those Terms of Service only apply to the binary version. Hence my question, because if the source code is freely available, you can load it on as many devices as you want.

I honestly don't know if having just the source code available fulfills the license, hence my question.

GPL Question (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352658)

Would it satisfy the GPL requirements if the source code was made available for free download on another site or does it have to be included with the binary?

Re:GPL Question (1)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352740)

The GPL does not require the source code originate from the same site as the binary. So yes, the source can be made available elsewhere.

Re:GPL Question (3, Insightful)

radish (98371) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352758)

While the source is a problem, the bigger problem is that the GPL states that you're not allowed to prevent people from redistributing the binary. Can you transfer an app from your phone to another one without Apple trying to stop you? No.

Re:GPL Question (2, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352828)

Apple store apps transfer from device to device. I can also delete the app and download it again as often as I like.

Re:GPL Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352950)

But you can't do this without the Apple Store's involvement, which is the point. Stop being deliberately obtuse, TJ.

Re:GPL Question (-1, Troll)

ceeam (39911) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352870)

My router runs Linux. Can I transfer the firmware from one router to another without Linksys (or whatever) trying to stop me? No.

Re:GPL Question (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352966)

While the source is a problem, the bigger problem is that the GPL states that you're not allowed to prevent people from redistributing the binary. Can you transfer an app from your phone to another one without Apple trying to stop you? No.

You can install apps on an unlimited number of iPhones/iPod Touches as long as you either authorize the device by signing in and redownloading the app directly or authorize the other person's iTunes to download and sync the app from your account.

Re:GPL Question (3, Insightful)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353152)

The GPL says you have the right to redistribute. It doesn't say that other people have to help you do it. It was a case of having the right to do something (modify the software) but not the ability to benefit from it (by installing a modified version in a Tivo) that pushed the FSF into writing GPLv3.

Summary is misleading (1)

Arker (91948) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352690)

It's an unusual enforcement action, though, because they don't want Apple to just make the app disappear, they want Apple to grant its users the full freedoms offered by the GPL.

For the FSF, at least, that is not unusual at all. Quite the opposite, that is always their goal when approaching violators.

Is it Apple's? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352702)

Neither TFS nor TFA make it clear whether the offending application is published by Apple, but it seems that the answer is "no". If so, I fail to see why Apple should be responsible for non-compliance here. Yes, their licensing terms are restrictive, but if some developer didn't realize that they are incompatible with GPL, it's his problem - not Apple's (and not FSF's).

From Apple's perspective, they simply have an application in App Store which is infringing on FSF copyright. I'd imagine that they have some policy against this, so they'll take it down. And, so long as they do it on request, DMCA shields them from liability for distribution. I believe FSF might (oh, the irony!) need to write a proper DMCA take-down request for this, though - until then, Apple can pretty much ignore it if they want (but they probably won't).

Re:Is it Apple's? (1)

pavera (320634) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352830)

apple is the distributor of the software. It is distribution that gets you in trouble with the GPL. If you download a GPL app, and modify it, and then never distribute it to anyone else, then you are not required to share your source code modifications. It is in distribution that you violate the GPL, if you do distribute your modified app, then you are required to include all the source code.

This is where apple is in violation because they are the distributor of the app, not the developers.

Re:Is it Apple's? (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353020)

Ah, but by maintaining tight application and review processes, Apple IS the publisher. They're not the developer, but they are the publisher, and definitely the distributor.

YouTube and ISPs fall into the safe-harbor clause of the DMCA because they do their filtering retroactively. In this case, Apple reviews every product before making it available. They've taken on the burden of being active content police, which removes any protection they might have.

The answer is simple. (4, Insightful)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352704)

If Apple cannot comply with the terms of the GPL then they are first in violation of the GPL terms and second, they are in the copyright violation arena. It is totally immaterial WHY they cannot comply. I am sure if Apple found a program in violation of their terms they would not afford the violator the same kindness they are currently being allowed.

Re:The answer is simple. (3, Informative)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352774)

Indeed, they have already taken the app down because it is a GPL violation. There are other GPL apps on the store though that are in compliance, with the source available via developer website linked within the app - it's not a fundamental incompatibility with the app store, it seems to be a developer issue.

Re:The answer is simple. (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352778)

Actually they have many times, sometimes buying out the offending software to the great delight of the authors. Do a little research please.

Re:The answer is simple. (1)

Tom (822) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352912)

But that is exactly why the FSF has a great track record in bringing companies into compliance - they give them advance notice, talk with them, their main goal is to bring them into compliance, not to sue.

What really is lost if they are in violation of the GPL for a week? The outcome matters. A victory for Free Software is still a victory if it doesn't materialize immediately right now.

Re:The answer is simple. (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353124)

If Apple cannot comply with the terms of the GPL then they are first in violation of the GPL terms and second, they are in the copyright violation arena. It is totally immaterial WHY they cannot comply.

No. Apple is not in violation of copyright. The developers are.

If I publish a book with copyrighted material, without permission, and Barnes and Nobles sells that book, who is breaching copyright? Me or B&N?

Assuming you recognize the obvious answer that it is I who would have breached copyright in that example, then the next obvious question is "why is Apple any different from B&N?" Apple did not create the work - they sell it. They are no different than a book store selling a book which in breach of copyright law.

It is the developer's responsibility to respect copyright laws. If the GPL has requirements that must be followed, it is the developer's responsibility to respect those requirements.

Hate Apple if you want but at least try to base it on something founded in logic please. In this case, the developers are at fault. Sorry.

F-Apple! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352712)

F-Apple! I still have trouble understanding why FOSS lovers give these people any more money.
Can some one please explain how Apple hardware or Apple software is good for any of us?

Amazing... (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352762)

Just goes to show you the amazing lengths spoiled children will go to to get momma to give them another cookie! If they can't comply with the license it should be pulled and should never have been allowed in in the first place.

If I read this right... (1)

mattdt0 (1497537) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352792)

I think it's less a question of the source code for the app needing to be available than it is that Apple wraps the app up in a container. Think of it like a filet mignon, a nice piece of steak wrapped up with a nasty greasy piece of bacon. The cow didn't put the pork into the steak, the restaurant did. I think the issue is that because Apple wrapped the app up in a sealed non-GPL compliant container, and then distributed it through the app store, without source code for the wrapper, they are the ones in violation of the GPL. Since the complete app is GPL code + Apple Wrapper, and since Apple is the one that adds the wrapper and sells the application...

From the Fine Article (3, Insightful)

watanabe (27967) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352816)

The EFF details some ways that suggest to me that Apple will never be able to be in compliance with the GPL under their current terms and conditions. For example: GPLv2, Section 6:

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.

From EFF's dissection of Apple's Agreement:

Section 7.2 makes it clear that any applications developed using Apple's SDK may only be publicly distributed through the App Store, and that Apple can reject an app for any reason, even if it meets all the formal requirements disclosed by Apple. So if you use the SDK and your app is rejected by Apple, you're prohibited from distributing it through competing app stores like Cydia or Rock Your Phone.

I am not a lawyer, but I would say that together these mean that Apple is in violation of the GPL if it distributes GPL code through its app store; it either needs to waive those terms in 7.2 (hah!) or outright ban GPL'ed code in the app store.

No, seriously. The wrong people (-1, Troll)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352820)

Apple is the vendor of the software just like Walmart is a vendor. There is no requirement for the source to be distributed with the software by the vendor, it is up to the developer to make an offer to distribute the source to anyone who asks for it. There is no requirement for it to be a download either.

No license can impose additional restrictions on third parties other than developers taking the code and distributing a binary. The GPL does not apply to Apple anymore than it would apply to Walmart.

I hope the GPL is challenged in court. (0, Flamebait)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352908)

I hope that the viral and binary linking/packaging terms of the GPL are not only challenged but struck down as unenforceable because they attempt to bind third parties to a license which they did not agree to and attempt to usurp the copyrights of other parties.

I have no problem with the FSF having a goal of keeping source code "free" but I do have a problem with license which attempt to "steal" or encumber the rights of other people.

This is reminscint of "Sita Sings the Blues" (5, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353024)

The producer of the full-length, animated movie "Sita Sings the Blues" recently found herself in a similar situation.
She had an eye-opening experience when she went to license the music in the movie (from the 1920s) and found out that it cost $50K for the rights and another $20K for the lawyers to do the clearance work - for recordings that are in the public domain (but the lyrics are not).

Because of that she decided to release the movie under the Creative Commons Share-Alike license - which, I believe, is the version most like the GPL(and she also took out a loan for the music rights). The movie has been very popular, Roger Ebert raved about it, even the guys on his old TV show (now called "At the Movies") gave it high marks. So eventually Netflix came a-calling, they offered her something like $7K up front for the right to stream the movie. However, she insisted that they stream it without DRM and their system is just not set up to do that, it's like they never conceived of the idea of Free content when they designed it. Kinda ironic in retrospect because I'd be really surprised if, just like most of the interwebs, a whole lot of netflix's infrastructure didn't run on Free software,

Anyway, she was willing to compromise - she would grant an exception to the licensing terms and they could DRM it, if they would run a placard at the start of the movie telling viewers that it was Free and where to get it from. No dice said Netflix. So she no dice too.

So, my bet is that Apple goes the same way as netflix - unwilling to compromise because their world view has no room in it for Free software for regular users.

BTW:
Sita Sings the Blues - main site [sitasingstheblues.com]
Download page - including bittorrent of a very nice 4GB 1080p mkv, also streaming from Youtube, etc [sitasingstheblues.com]
IMDB Page [imdb.com]
Ebert's review [suntimes.com]

They'll just pull the app (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32353092)

This will probably lead to apple pulling the app, then banning any subsequent GPL apps from the app-store. As far as this not undoing the past infringement; I'd expect them to take a 'see you in court' attitude.
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