After Licensing Problems, Apple Removes VLC For iOS From App Store

Apple has finally removed VLC for iOS from the AppStore after complaints from VLC developers and Free Software Foundation. The situation involves a conflict between the General Public License, which governs VLC and many other open-source programs, and App Store policies.

Apple Removes VLC For iOS From App Store

As many would agree, VLC is an amazing media player which plays almost any video format that you throw at it. In September last year, it was ported to iOS and made available in the AppStore. It was very well received – who wouldn’t want VLC on their iPad.

However, trouble started because of the licensing terms of the AppStore which was incompatible with GPL. The VLC developer and the FSF notified Apple of the licensing conflict and asked Apple to change the license or remove the app.

Unfortunately, this whole escapade is a direct result of one man’s (Rémi Denis-Courmont) misguided crusade… a man who, (perhaps) coincidentally, is an employee of Nokia, one of Apple’s competitors in the mobile space. Note the VideoLAN mission: “VideoLAN is a project and a non-profit organization, composed of volunteers, developing and promoting free multimedia solutions.”

The Nokia employee did not attempt to achieve an amicable solution, instead he went straight to getting VLC removed from the Apple App Store. 2 months later, on January 7, Apple finally removed VLC for iOS.

Announcing the removal, Rémi Denis-Courmont wrote this on Planet VideoLAN: “At last, Apple has removed VLC media player from its application store. Thus the incompatibility between the GNU General Public License and the AppStore terms of use is resolved – the hard way. This end should not have come to a surprise to anyone, given the precedents.

But that leaves us wondering — How is removing a FREE app conductive to VideoLAN’s mission of “promoting free multimedia solutions”? At any rate, great job Rémi! We’re sure your idealistic principles are far more important than the benefit that millions of people could have had from using the FREE VLC app on their iOS devices, but thanks for ruining it for everyone else.

However, those who have downloaded VLC on their iOS devices can continue to use it – it is just that it will not be available to new users and updates will not be available.


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