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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 16:54 UTC (Thu) by iabervon (subscriber, #722)
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

Section 6 of the GPL does say: "You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein." Of course, this clause, literally interpreted, is unreasonably broad; I assume the FSF won't give me the passwords to their web servers so that I can overwrite their web site with copies of GPL software the FSF distributes, despite the fact that the GPL gives me the right to make and distribute these copies, and the FSF is preventing me from doing so in a particular way. And it's also obvious that, if a GPL-licensed binary has been copied into a computer's instruction cache, and this copy may be executed and is provided to the user in this fashion, but cannot be copied back out to memory or registers from there, nobody is violating the license.

Apple may be able to argue that they can restrict the use of the contents of an iTunes account as a whole, and that if you want to put the binary on something else, you have to get it there via a different path; the FSF would probably have a good case that Apple, in order to comply with the GPL, needs to provide the binary in some way that allows it to be redistributed in order for them to be allowed to also provide it in a way that's not exportable.

I'm not actually sure what the FSF would want Apple's initial response to be, considering that that didn't intend to distribute GPL software and their site doesn't have support for actions necessary to comply with it. I assume that FileHippo would similarly take down a file that was just an executable built from GPL sources, lacking a mechanism for accompanying it with anything and therefore unable to comply with the notification requirements.

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FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 18:59 UTC (Thu) by armijn (subscriber, #3653) [Link]

Binaries in the app store are signed and coupled to a profile in iTunes, making it very much (no, exactly) like Tivoization, which is frowned upon, but not explicitly forbidden in GPLv2, so FSF asking Apple to install unencrypted programs is highly unlikely to have a chance of success.

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 20:01 UTC (Thu) by iabervon (subscriber, #722) [Link]

They don't have to install unencrypted programs, but they do have to make the unencrypted versions available to users. Of course, those versions won't be useful to anyone whose device won't run unsigned programs (or won't run A4 executables, etc.). Tivo also has to provide the somewhat-unhelpful binaries with their devices.

(It's a bit different from the Tivo case in that Apple would be fine with not permitting any GPLed code on these devices, whereas Tivo actually ships their devices with GPLed code on them. Apple can just not distribute any code through the App Store that is submitted by someone without the right to grant Apple the rights they need for their process.)

FSF takes on Apple's App Store over GPL

Posted Jun 10, 2010 20:17 UTC (Thu) by armijn (subscriber, #3653) [Link]

It does not say anywhere in the GPLv2 license that unencrypted binaries should be provided, just source (which is what matters, right?)

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