On Jun 27, 2011, at 9:37 PM, Simon Phipps wrote:
On 27 Jun 2011, at 12:50, Benjamin Horst wrote:
When we discussed this last year, I researched a bit and found the following article from the
The article's summary:
An iPhone port of GNU Go is currently being distributed through Apple's App Store. However, this
distribution is not in compliance with the GNU GPL. The primary problem is that 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. So today we have written to Apple and asked
them to come into compliance. We would be happy to see Apple distribute these programs under the
GPL's terms, but unfortunately, it seems much more likely that they'll simply make the problem
go away by removing GNU Go from the App Store.
I think the above refers to the iOS App Store, but I do not know if the relevant terms are any
different for the Mac App Store. (I think it predates the existence of the Mac App Store.)
The other difference is that the article refers to the GPL and not specifically the LGPL license.
I will follow up further and let you know what I discover.
Personally I think that conclusion is debatable. While Apple was the channel, the actual
distribution was done by whoever put the software into the channel and it's not obvious to me
that the situation is any different to, say, buying a PC with Linux on it from a "members only"
retailer like CostCo. As long as the offer of source was made, I suspect an equally valid case
could be constructed that there's no "coming into compliance" to be done.
Indeed, it's not a universally-agreed conclusion. I have discovered a popular GPLv2 licensed
application in the Mac App Store, which could be a good sign for us.
I have contacted the author of the above article on FSF's site to see if he can provide more
information for us. I have also contacted the author of the GPLv2 app on the Mac App Store to learn
from his experience and ask for a little help.
Not that I am a lawyer, of course :-) Just saying that I suspect the action in that link was
motivated more by politics than by legal certainty...
If there is uncertainty around it, then we should proceed boldly and confidently, and just get it
done instead of censoring ourselves. There is too much to gain to ignore this opportunity!
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