VLC for iPhone may get pulled from App Store--by the developer

Usually it's Apple that yanks apps for violating some rule or another, but this time it's the developer crying foul. You won't believe why.

News of the weird: Remi Denis-Courmont, one of the developers of the VLC Media Player app , has apparently sent Apple a "formal notification of copyright infringement" and asked that the app be removed from the App Store.

Yes, we have apparently crossed over into Bizarro World.

Better get VLC Media Player before it's gone. The developer says Apple's use of DRM is a no-no.
Better get VLC Media Player before it's gone. The developer says Apple's use of DRM is a no-no. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

In the old days, it was Apple that did the app yanking, usually for obscure or arbitrary reasons. In recent months, however, the company has lifted--or at least loosened--many of its previous restrictions. Prior to that, it's unlikely the VLC Media Player would have been allowed in the first place.

As reported by iLounge, Denis-Courmont said the App Store's product usage rules violate VLC's open-source GNU General Public License. In other words, even though the VLC Media Player is provided free of charge via the App Store, Apple's application of DRM prevents users from sharing it with each other--hence the license violation.

Denis-Courmont also said he expects Apple to "cease distribution soon," citing a similar case with an app called GNU Go. That prediction was written nearly a week ago; as of today, VLC Media Player remains in the App Store.

But who knows for how much longer? If you're interested in the app (which is arguably a must-have if you want to play videos of all formats), I'd grab it now.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts on this? Are the VideoLAN developers right for trying to uphold the GPL? If so, why do you think they submitted the app in the first place, knowing full well how the App Store operates? Just to make a point?

Update: As a point of clarification, it was third-party developer Applidium that submitted the app, not Denis-Courmont or any of the other developers of the original desktop version of VLC.

Personally, I find it a bit ridiculous. Apple doesn't collect any money for hosting the app, and the DRM (which to my thinking doesn't impact iOS usability in the slightest) is necessary to prevent piracy. See, I share the crazy belief that developers deserve to be paid for their work, just like musicians. The only people being punished here are the users.

 

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