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FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 15:52 UTC (Thu) by martinfick (subscriber, #4455)
In reply to: FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL by armijn
Parent article: FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Straight from the article:

"In it, he says that the particular license violation that FSF brought up with Apple was section 6 of the GPLv2, which states that a redistributor of the licensed program may not impose further restrictions on the recipients to copy, distribute, or modify the program. Apple's App Store terms of service do impose several restrictions, such as limiting usage of the program to five devices approved by Apple."

What is not clear about that (copy/distribute)?


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FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 16:14 UTC (Thu) by armijn (subscriber, #3653) [Link]

And as I said the article does not convince me.

How can it be a GPL violation if a distributor does not want to distribute more than x binary copies of a program to you, even if they would provide the full code in compliance with the GPL?

If you have the code you can compile the program, sign up with iTunes and redistribute, so what's the big deal?

Restricting the number if copies is NOT a license violation. Quoted from the GPLv2:

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

So, someone please tell me, why are the Apple App Store terms incompatible with GPLv2? I fail to see it.

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 16:20 UTC (Thu) by jake (editor, #205) [Link]

> How can it be a GPL violation if a distributor does not want to
> distribute more than x binary copies of a program to you, even
> if they would provide the full code in compliance with the GPL?

I guess I don't see where anybody is claiming that it is.

Once I get a binary from Apple, can I legally redistribute it more than five times and/or to devices that Apple doesn't like? That's the question, it seems to me. It's not how many times *Apple* is willing to distribute it, that's completely under their control, it's a question of what restrictions (legal, not technical) are placed on what the recipient can do.

At least that's how I see it ...

jake

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 19:12 UTC (Thu) by armijn (subscriber, #3653) [Link]

That is a good question, but quite hypothetical. Binaries are signed and breaking the encryption opens a whole new can of worms.

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 16:23 UTC (Thu) by martinfick (subscriber, #4455) [Link]

Restricting copies to 5 is limiting ... copying! On what grounds do you consider copying an activity that is "other than copying, distribution and modification"?

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 19:08 UTC (Thu) by armijn (subscriber, #3653) [Link]

Let's look at the Apple license terms for a second. These sections come from the app store terms of usage that are copied on the FSF website, not the iTunes terms of usage. FSF says that the analysis applies identically to both, but they seem quite different to me. Anyway, the interesting bits from section 9:

(ii) You shall be able to store Products from up to five different Accounts on certain iPhone OS-based devices (including, but not limited to, iPad, iPod touch or iPhone), at a time.

(iii) You shall be able to store Products on five iTunes-authorized devices at any time.

The storing part could be seen as a limitation in copying, but I think it is not. What happens if you register a sixth device is that Apple will simply not distribute the program to that device since you already have five. Denying to distribute something to someone is, as far as I know, not a violation of the GPL license, since the license only comes into play once you distribute something. No distribution equals no license problem. Of course, Apple should make sure that the other five copies are distributed GPL compliant.

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 19:14 UTC (Thu) by bcs (guest, #27943) [Link]

How can it be a GPL violation if a distributor does not want to distribute more than x binary copies of a program to you, even if they would provide the full code in compliance with the GPL?

It's not, but that's not what the Terms of Service say. If it said "You can only download this program five times; after that, we're not going to let you download any more copies from us," that would be fine. But instead it says that you may only make five copies. And only on Apple-approved devices, no less. Thus it puts restrictions on the recipient's copying, and not merely Apple's, and that's what's not allowed under the GPL.

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 19:24 UTC (Thu) by armijn (subscriber, #3653) [Link]

The user is not copying anything. The user is using iTunes to let Apple distribute and install software onto an Apple approved device. Apple will only allow it on five Apple approved devices at the time. If you want more they will not distribute it to you. No distribution equals no licensing problem, it's as simple as that.

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 19:44 UTC (Thu) by MortenSickel (subscriber, #3238) [Link]

Which then is as simple as a break of the GPL. How you can say that installing software onto a device is not copying, or that denying to install a piece of software is not do deny copying?

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 20:07 UTC (Thu) by sfeam (subscriber, #2841) [Link]

The terms as quoted up-thread use the word "obtain". The customer is limited to "obtaining" five instances of the program. Do you want to argue that "obtain" really means "copy" rather than "download"?

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 20:17 UTC (Thu) by martinfick (subscriber, #4455) [Link]

Could you be more specific, which thread? I cannot find the word "obtain" in any other post at the time of this post) than yours.

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 20:37 UTC (Thu) by armijn (subscriber, #3653) [Link]

How can not wanting to distribute to someone breach a distribution license?

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 20:12 UTC (Thu) by bcs (guest, #27943) [Link]

It doesn't matter whether Apple distributes only one copy to the user, or over nine thousand: the GPL prohibits Apple from putting additional legal restrictions on any of them. The user has to have the freedom to make whatever additional copies of the software they want. But section 9(c) of the Terms of Service says: "You agree that your license of Products constitutes your acceptance of and agreement to use such Products solely in accordance with the Usage Rules...." (Emphasis added.) And one of those Usage Rules (9(b)(iii)) specifically imposes a limit on your copying: "You shall be able to store Products on five iTunes-authorized devices at any time." Regardless of how Apple's distribution is modeled, the copy or copies that the user receives are unquestionably restricted from further copying, in violation of the GPL.

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 20:24 UTC (Thu) by armijn (subscriber, #3653) [Link]

Thanks for pointing this out. The terms of usage say that to *USE* the products you have to agree the terms of the license. It does not say anything about copying, so it does not restrict your rights under GPLv2, since usage is outside the scope of the license. From GPLv2:

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

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 20:27 UTC (Thu) by armijn (subscriber, #3653) [Link]

Argh, brain faster than fingers. What I meant to say is that to use it you have to agree with the terms of service, not the terms of the license.

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 20:42 UTC (Thu) by martinfick (subscriber, #4455) [Link]

Correct, usage does not fall under the GPL2, it falls under standard copyright. Apple does not own the copyright so it cannot add terms of usage on software it does not own the copyright to (just as Best Buy may not dictate how you use your copy of MS Windows purchased there). Apple may demand that you add usage terms to your copyright if you desire to distribute your program via their service. But, random users attempting to distribute GPLed software via Apple's service cannot agree to this for other copyright holders.

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 21:40 UTC (Thu) by johnsu01 (subscriber, #34757) [Link]

The ToS says you can store the software on 5 approved computers.

Copying the software yourself as permitted by the GPL would require storing it on a 6th (possibly unapproved) computer.

The ToS says you are not permitted to do anything outside of the listed rules.

Copying it to a 6th computer is outside the listed rules.

Which of the above do you take issue with?


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