Get It While You Can – VLC For iOS To Be Pulled From The App Store

Oct 30, 2010 by

UPDATE 1: According to Eeems on Twitter, it appears that the app has already disappeared from the Canadian iTunes store. At the time of this writing, it’s still there in America, though, so act fast!

UPDATE 2: Many North American users are claiming it will not download at all for them. Many of you still looking for a way to download this are advised to download it from Installous, which is completely legal because it is a free app and ironically does not break the terms of the license.

An interesting story from Covering Web today – According to iLounge, the popular VLC Media Player app may soon be pulled from the App Store. VLC is a free media player that can read a lot of files that the iPhone wouldn’t be able to do on its own. It’s a great app that I would recommend to anyone with a large video collection.

Why, you ask? VLC is Open Source, which means that the developers have released the code that makes the app to the public. This is good because other developers can improve and make their own versions of Open Source applications. However, when something is Open Source it is usually released under a special license that basically says, “Hey, you can do whatever you want to this app, like make your own versions, but you have to credit me”. There are many variations of this licence, but that’s the gist of it. 

VLC has been an open source desktop application for Windows, Mac, and Linux long before it came to the iPhone. The creators of the desktop version, VideoLAN, did not bring it to the iPhone. Instead, using the magical powers of Open Source, Applidium ported it to iOS and submitted it to the App Store, which is allowed because of the license that desktop VLC was released under. 

However, the app must be taken down if it violates this license in any way. And it appears that VideoLAN have read the fine print, and found a reason to take VLC for iOS down. 

VideoLAN recently sent a request to Apple to take VLC for iOS off the App Store. The reason? Apparently, the licence clearly states that a user must be able to download an application on as many devices as he/she wants. iTunes, however, only allows you to download an application on 5 devices for every account you make, which therefore technically violates the licence and is grounds for removal. The only words of advice VideoLAN has for concerned users is that they, “are advised to look for application on more open mobile platforms for the time being.”

I believe that, while this specific case may not matter for some, it may lead to bigger issues. If this is grounds for VLC to be removed, doesn’t that technically make it grounds for every other Open Source App Store app to be removed? This would mean that great apps like Colloquy are technically violating their own licence. What do you all think? Please don’t hesitate to leave a response in the comments below!

– Harry Prevor

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